While students at UNCP were getting their spring break started, the baseball players were traveling to Georgia to play against the Young Harris Mountain Lions at Zell B. Miller Field.
They had yet to lose a series up to this point, but unfortunately, that run would come to an end as they ended up losing the first two out of the three games. UNCP lost 4-8 in the first game on March 2, 4-1 the next day, but won 9-8 on March 4.
Braves’ ace pitcher Anthony Burke toed the rubber for the first game of the series, and things looked promising early. They were up 4-1 through eight innings behind a strong eight-strikeout performance from Burke.
The lead wouldn’t last long after entering the bottom of the ninth, however. As soon as the bullpen came in to close it down in the ninth, they absolutely imploded. Hank Simpson was the first to enter in relief.
He was taken out after giving up two unearned runs without recording a single out. AJ Stead was next to try and lock down the save. He managed to get two outs, but couldn’t capitalize on the lead and allowed one more run to score to make it a tie game at 4-4.
Strikeout artist Cole Lovin was called on to try and stop the bleeding, but got the Black and Gold in trouble. He left with the bases loaded and the score still knotted up.
Junior Trace Hagler was the last hope to try and send the game into extras, but he gave up a walk off grand slam giving the Braves the 8-4 loss to start the series. The second game didn’t start as good as the first for UNCP.
They were down 4-0 after four innings. Jarratt Mobley got the Braves on the board in the fifth with an RBI single, but they just couldn’t muster enough offense to stage a comeback. Young Harris had an answer every time Pembroke scored and kept the lead throughout the whole contest.
There was an interesting pitching decision in this one for Coach O’Brien. Center fielder Roberto Rivera entered the game in the bottom of the eighth. Not to play center, but to go on the mound.
He gave up two runs through his one inning of work and didn’t strike out any in his first pitching appearance of the season. The final score ended up being 4-10. The last game of the series was a reversal of fortunes for the Braves.
After dropping the first two against the Mountain Lions, Pembroke finally got back in the win column. However, it didn’t look that way after the first two innings.
Braves starter Blake Helms gave up seven runs through just 1.2 innings pitched. Hank Simpson helped keep Young Harris at bay with a scoreless third inning after finishing off the second, and Gunner Deal finished the job for the Black and Gold throwing six scoreless innings out of the pen.
This brought Deal’s record to 3-0 on the season after the win. On the offensive side, Trey Jacobs and Luke Jackson both went yard in this one and they would go on to win 9-8 to avoid the series sweep.