The No.40 ranked UNCP baseball team welcomed the Crimson Hawks of Indiana University of Pennsylvania to the Sammy Cox Field on Feb. 9-10 for a three-game series in a non-conference match up. The two teams broke even in the double header on day one and the Braves capped off the weekend with a 22-3 win on the second day to claim the series victory.
The Black and Gold nearly hit .470 with runners on base and answered early multi-run leads from visiting IUP with scoring spurts of their own in the series opener. Each team would put up five runs a piece over the second and third innings before the Braves put up 3 runs in the fifth inning to pull away for good.
Ethan Baucom and Connor Grainger hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning, that proved to be key in the win for the Braves, while Elijah Helton and Zach Ghelfi both scored a pair of runs.
The Braves struggled mightily to find any offense in the second game of the series and in the latter half of the day one double header. Their 13-game home winning streak came to a surprising end as the Crimson Hawks outhit the Braves 13-4 and won the game 11-1 upset.
The final game of the series was a record setting performance for the hosting Braves as they broke a six-year-old Peach Belt Conference record when they drew 19 walks and capitalized on seven IUP errors to clinch the series with a huge 22-3 triumph in game three.
Senior Elijah Helton churned out a career-best six RBI in a 2-for-4 day at that plate that included a grand slam in the fifth inning. All-American Luke Jackson doubled, was credited with a pair of runs and scored three times on a 2-for-4 hitting line. Sophomore Connor Grainger tallied a PBC record six walks, added three RBI and a trio of runs scored to his offensive line.
“The big difference between the games was starting pitching. We didn’t pitch very well yesterday in the beginning and we got way behind, it put us behind the eight ball, and we couldn’t come back from it. Today we got good starting pitching and it allowed us to get out in front and once we got in front, we weren’t going to give it back,” said Head Coach Paul O’Neil.