PEMBROKE – UNCP broke open a close game with two runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings on the shoulders of its 21st double-digit hitting tally of the season to rally past Coker, 8-4, and finish off a season sweep of the Cobras Tuesday evening at Sammy Cox Field.
Seth Kivett blasted his team-leading seventh home run of the season to highlight a 2-for-4 night at the plate for UNCP (21-11) who improved to 18-3 against non-conference foes this season with the result. The Braves got two hits and as many RBI from leadoff hitter Kevin Dietrich, with Derek Funk and Keith Whitman each contributing to the 10-hit attack for the hosts with 2-for-4 hitting lines.
The Cobras (15-15) got two hits apiece from its 5-6-7 hitters, with Ellis Logeman pacing the attack with his first home run of the season on a 2-for-4 night at the plate. Trevin Taber and Karl Ankersen both turned in 2-for-4 performances as well.
UNCP freshman righthander Jake Dailey (3-0) shook off a rough start to register his third win of the season, striking out five and scattering six hits across a seven innings of work from the mound. Reliever Tom Oschip (2-2) struck out three and allowed just one hit in two innings of work, but saddled the tough-luck loss anyway after surrendering two runs (one earned) in the seventh.
Coker shook off the ill effects of a close play at the plate with Logeman’s three-run homer in the top of the second to light up the scoreboard first, but the Braves – aided by a costly balk by starter Jesse Hatchell – sent its entire order to the plate and scored four runs to take the one-run advantage into the third.
The Cobras used their short game to rally for a run in the sixth, using a leadoff single by Kevin Schlange and an ensuing sac bunt by Kyle Walker to set the tables for Taber’s two-out game-tying single two batters later.
However, the night proved to be all Black and Gold as the Braves used a RBI double by Dietrich and an ill-timed passed ball to score two in the seventh, and then added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on a solo shot by Kivett and a costly fielding error by the Cobras on a routine pop fly to right field.
Barring rain expected to move into the state of North Carolina overnight, UNCP will return to the diamond on Wednesday when the squad make the short trip to Lenoir to battle 17th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne (20-7) at Bears Field. First pitch has been set for 5 p.m.
Coker will continue a five-game road trip on Wednesday when the Cobras travel to Newberry (11-13) for a 7 p.m. contest at Smith Road Complex.