PEMBROKE – UNCP negated an early 2-0 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the first to help support senior Alex Pearce's fourth quality start of the season as the Braves captured their weekend series with 11th-ranked Lander on a 7-4 win over the Bearcats in the series rubber game on Saturday.
The triumph helped the Braves (27-13, 13-10 PBC) post their seventh series victory of the season, including their fourth league series win of the campaign. The setback marked the fourth loss in the last six outings for Lander (27-12, 13-8) who slipped 1-1/2 games behind USC Aiken in the race for the PBC's East Division crown.
Josh Haley completed a phenomenal offensive weekend by scoring twice on a 3-for-5 outing for UNCP, while Drew Alford drove in a run on a 2-for-5 hitting line. Newcomer Jordan Edgerton drove in three runs on a key first-inning double for the Braves as well. Patrick Grady and Kevin Starr both turned in 3-for-5 plate exhibitions for Lander, who got two hits apiece from both Jordan Owens, A.J. Nunziato and Jeff May as well.
Peace (6-3) yielded a season-high 13 hits, but picked up his fourth-straight win anyway after striking out five and surrendering four runs (three earned) in 7-2/3 innings from the hill. Lander starter Brandon Miller (5-1) saddled his first loss of the season after allowing five earned runs on four hits and a trio of walks in just two innings of work. He also struck out one.
Lander used a pair of two-out RBI singles in the top of the first to grab a quick 2-0 lead, but UNCP answered in the bottom of the frame with a two-out rally of its own. Miller retired each of the first two batters he faced in the inning, but walked three batters and yielded three hits, including Edgerton's bases-clearing double, to fall behind quickly.
Parnell's RBI groundout in the second would stretch UNCP's advantage out to a trio of runs, 5-2. Lander would rally for lone runs in each of the third and sixth innings, but UNCP scratched the scoreboard for single scores in the fourth and sixth innings to keep the Bearcats at arm's length.
UNCP will be back in action again next weekend when the Braves head to Aiken, S.C., to battle PBC East-leading and third-ranked USC Aiken (26-10, 15-7) in a three-game series at Hernandez Stadium. The squads will open up the weekend with a 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon doubleheader and close out the series with a lone 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.
To watch the full game click Part 1 or Part 2.