Braves Fall To No. 5 Armstrong Atlantic In Conference Finale
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Zach Taylor gave fifth-ranked Armstrong Atlantic the lead for good with a two-run homer in the fifth inning that helped the Pirates finish off a weekend sweep of visiting and 25th-ranked UNCP with a 5-2 win over the Braves on Sunday afternoon at Pirate Field.
The setback marked the third-straight loss for UNCP (29-18, 14-15 PBC) and, coupled with two Lander wins over Flagler on Sunday, mathematically eliminated the Braves from contention for a spot in next month's PBC Tournament. The victory marked the 14th-straight win for PBC-leading Armstrong Atlantic (35-9, 19-8) who is just one win away from wrapping up at least a share of the PBC's regular season title.
Eitan Maoz doubled and scored a run on a 2-for-3 hitting line for UNCP, with Josh Haley (2-for-5, R), Drew Alford (2-for-5) and J.J. Williams (2-for-4) all turning in multi-hit days as well. Taylor (1-for-3, 2 R) and John Roberts (2-for-4) both hit home runs to aid Armstrong Atlantic, who also got two-hit outings from Casey Maloney, Drew Walker and Richie Anderson.
Bryan Collins (1-1) allowed five earned runs on nine hits and a walk to saddle his first loss of the season for the Braves. He also struck out two. Scott Strickland (8-1) picked up the win for the hosts after striking out seven and limiting the Black & Gold to eight hits and a pair of earned runs. Chess Malone booked his second save of the series with two scoreless innings of relief work.
Frederick gave Armstrong the first run of the game with a one-out RBI double in the bottom of the first, but the Braves knotted things back up in the following frame, getting Maoz into scoring position via a leadoff single and an ensuing wild pitch to set the table for an eventual RBI knock by Jordan Edgerton. After posting two scoreless innings, the Pirates went to work again in the fifth, getting Will Thomas aboard on a one-out single, and then using Taylor's two-out dinger two batters later to go back out in front.
The hosts would add a pair of insurance scores in the sixth on a leadoff homer from Roberts, as well as a sac fly from Thomas. The visitors would cap the game scoring on Maoz's sac fly in the top of the eighth.
The Braves will be in action again on Wednesday when they begin a regular-season-ending two-game home stand against No. 10 Catawba (38-12) at Sammy Cox Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.