Pearce Masterful As Braves Edge Wingate In Season Finale
PEMBROKE – Max Gagnon's leadoff homer in the bottom of the seventh gave UNCP its first lead of the game and all the help senior right-hander Alex Pearce would need as the Braves reached the 30-win plateau for the eighth-straight season with a 2-1 victory over visiting Wingate on Saturday.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for UNCP (30-19) who captured a win in its regular season finale for the third-straight season as well. Wingate (31-24), who snapped a nine-year series losing streak with an 11-9 upset of the Braves in early March, lost for the third time in the last four outings and has now dropped 15 of the last 16 matchups with the Black & Gold.
Gagnon homered for the third time this season to highlight a 2-for-3 night for the redshirt sophomore, while senior Josh Haley singled twice on three trips to the plate, while also swiping a pair of bases – the 99th and 100th stolen bases of his career. Three different players recorded lone base hits for the Bulldogs.
Pearce (8-4) yielded a lone earned run in the first inning, but yielded just one hit over the next seven innings of work, to grab a win for the sixth time in his last seven starts. He also struck out three batters. All-American Braxton Lewis struck out one in a hitless ninth inning to book his 11th save of the season. Olen Little (4-1) saddled his first loss of the season despite allowing just one earned run and two hits in a brief appearance in the seventh.
Wingate used doubles by both Casey Allison and Jacob Karr to plate its only run of the game in the first inning, but the Braves knotted the score back up in the home half of the first on a two-out RBI single by Tyler Potter that brought Drew Alford racing home from third. UNCP looked to have all the makings of a big third inning after loading the bases with its first four at-bats of the frame, but Wingate reliever Ryan Fitzpatrick slammed the door on the rally by retiring the next two batters.
After five scoreless innings, Gagnon crushed Little's first offering over the wall in left field to provide the eventual game-winning score.
After allowing two hits in the first, Pearce was dominant the rest of the way out. He retired the sides in order in each of the second, third and sixth innings, and faced just four batters in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. He allowed just three base runners over his final seven innings of work, two of which reached via a fielding error.
To watch the full game click Part 1 or Part 2.