Giant Killers: Baseball Stuns No.1 North Georgia
The UNCP Baseball team capitalized on strong performances from freshman shortstop Jarratt Mobley to best North Georgia, the top-ranked team in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 25, in a three-game series on March 24.
Mobley earned Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week honors after putting together a remarkable series that included a 4-4 performance on Friday, a 4-for-5 clip on Saturday and a critical two-RBI single in Sunday’s contest.
The newcomer’s contributions helped the Braves take the front and back ends of the series from the Nighthawks. UNCP won the first game 10-6, North Georgia triumphed in the second game 16-10, and the Braves came away with a 6-4 win in the finale.
UNCP backed up a quality performance by junior Anthony Burke on the mound with three home runs to win the opening game of the series 10-6.
Burke pitched eight innings for the Braves, yielding six hits and five earned run while notching 10 strikeouts. Three of those runs came off a three-run homer by North Georgia’s Joshua Peterson in the ninth inning.
Mobley recorded two three-run home runs of his own for UNCP and finished with seven RBIs. Stibel Aleman Saba added a solo shot for the Braves.
The Braves found themselves down early in the first inning after North Georgia’s Trevor Sams hit a sacrifice fly to give the Nighthawks a 1-0 advantage.
North Georgia starter Steven Bower kept the Braves off the scoreboard until the fourth inning, when Mobley launched his first home run with two outs in the bottom of the frame.
An RBI double from Connor Corbitt brought the Nighthawks to within one run in the fifth, but the Braves responded with seven unanswered runs over the next two innings to extend their lead. Mobley’s second homer and Aleman Saba’s solo blast helped fuel the run.
UNCP head coach Paul O’Neil pulled Burke after giving up Peterson’s home run and replaced him with reliever Aaron Biggerstaff. It took 21 pitches for Biggerstaff to record his first and only out of the night, as he allowed a run to score on a fielder’s choice in the process.
Kyle Ramsey took over for Biggerstaff and earned the final two outs for UNCP.
Bower allowed four runs on as many hits in five innings on the mound for North Georgia.
The Braves trailed by as much as 15-4 in the seventh inning, but a late comeback attempt from the Black and Gold fell short as they dropped game two to the Nighthawks 16-10.
The game, which spanned over four hours and featured a combine 34 hits, was tightly contested throughout the first four innings.
UNCP starter Matt Fuhr lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 pitches
North Georgia had its own problems on the mound. Daniel McCrary pitched four innings for the Nighthawks while giving up six hits and three runs, serving as the starter for a pitching staff that allowed 17 hits on the day.
With the Braves behind 4-3 in the fifth inning, North Georgia’s Andres Perez launched a two-run homer off UNCP’s Hank Simpson to ignite the Nighthawk offense.
An RBI single by Alex Simpson in the bottom of the inning helped the Braves chip away at the deficit, but it was negated by a solo home run by North Georgia’s Bill Leroy in the sixth.
The seventh inning saw both offenses explode, as the Nighthawks outscored the Braves 7-6 in the inning. Three different UNCP batters notched RBI singles in the inning.
The Braves used six relievers throughout the game, the last of which was infielder Hayden Buffkin. The senior, who was making his second pitching appearance of the year, pitched a clean ninth inning to keep UNCP within reach of the visitors.
North Georgia’s Gabe Moore would not allow UNCP to try for a comeback in the final two innings, striking out two and allowing no hits in that stretch.
In addition to Mobley’s 4-for-5 outing, four different Braves recorded two hits.
North Georgia starting pitcher Dylan Peppers did not allow a hit in 6 2/3 innings of work, but it wouldn’t be enough for the visitors as UNCP rallied to close the series with a 6-4 victory.
Peppers struck out five batters and walked four in his time on the mound. He was replaced with reliever Jacob Jones after tossing 101 pitches.
Kyle Boraski turned in a strong outing for the Black and Gold, allowing just two earned runs on eight hits while fanning six in seven innings on the mound. Kyle Ramsey earned his fourth save of the year by striking out five batters and holding the Nighthawks scoreless over the final two innings.
North Georgia struck first when a bloop single by Michael Bell drove in two runs in the first innings. No more runs would be plated on either side until the seventh inning.
After a two RBI single by Mobley in the seventh, Nick Salisbury drove in another two runs on a single to center field. Rivera followed with a RBI single that scored Salisbury.
UNCP’s final run came in the ninth when pinch hitter Nolan Pierce scored on a throwing error.
Bell drove in a run on a double in the eighth inning, and Trevor Sams scored on an error for the Nighthawks in the same inning.
Mobley and Salisbury led UNCP with two hits apiece. Bell finished with three RBIs for North Georgia.