February 25, 2012

Saints Split Doubleheader with Braves to Open Peach Belt Play

Contact: Steve Cunha,

DAHLONEGA, GA – The 26th-ranked North Georgia baseball team rallied late to split a doubleheader on Saturday with No. 9 UNC Pembroke at Bob Stein Stadium.

The Saints (8-3, 1-1 PBC) split their conference opening double header for the third straight year, while the Braves (12-2, 3-1 PBC) suffered their second road loss of the season.

The Saints got a pair of quality starts from Blake Hobby and Jesse Coxwell, dropping the first contest 6-5 and rallying late in game two to escape with a 6-2 victory.

Game 1 –

North Georgia ace Blake Hobby continued his strong senior campaign tossing six innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs.

The contest was back and forth all game and the Braves got on the board in the first when leadoff batter Josh Haley reached and advanced into scoring position on an error.  Two batters later Brad Bridgeman brought Haley home on a groundout to Saints shortstop Dustin Carpenter.

In the bottom of the frame North Georgia would answer when Terrell Jones smacked a one out single up the middle, scoring Jordan Erisman to even the score.

The Brave would answer, as they did all game in the top of the second as their leadoff hitter once again reached on an error.  Three batters later Tyler Potter sent a two out single through the left side to score JJ Williams.

In the bottom of the third the Saints would tie the score again when Jones delivered a run scoring single down the left field line to bring home Andrew Gordon.

The Braves would answer in the top of the fourth when Potter hit a scorcher down the right field line with two outs to score Max Gagnon.

In the bottom of the fifth the Saints battled back again, scoring a run on three hits. Derek Hooper, Jones and Kenny Bellavance had back-to-back-to-back one out singles with Hooper coming around to score on Bellevance frozen rope through the right side.

In top of the sixth the Braves were at it again when Eitan Moaz slapped a single to right, scoring a pair to give UNC Pembroke the 5-3 lead.

The Saints rallied again in the bottom of frame when Erisman hit a double down the left field line scoring Gordon and Brad Barto.

In the top of the seventh the Braves would score what would prove to be the final run of the contest when Kyle Adair singled through the left side to bring home Ben Schmucker.

The Saints placed runners on the corners with just one out in the bottom of the frame, but Braves reliever Brantley Hattrich forced Eason Spivey to pop out to first and fanned Barto to get out of the jam.

Both teams went quietly in the eighth and in the bottom of the ninth UNC Pembroke closer Braxton Lewis closed the door to seal the 6-5 victory.

Game 2 –

Jesse Coxwell tossed seven strong innings scattering four hits and allowing just two runs to improve his record to 3-0 on the season.

The Braves drew first blood again scoring in top of the first as Bridgeman grounded out to Erisman to bring home Haley. UNC Pembroke would stretch their lead to 2-0 in the top of the third when Moaz hit a double to deep center field scoring Haley.

North Georgia would cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth when Dustin Carpenter hit a leadoff homer to left center.

The bats went silent for the next few innings as Coxwell and Braves starter Jordan DeLoatch were both dealing.

In the bottom of the seventh the Saints would send nine batters to plate as they greeted the Braves bullpen with four runs on three hits.

Travis Naraine and Carpenter both walked to start the frame and Spivey moved them over with a sac bunt. Barto followed with a run scoring single through the left side and Erisman followed with another run scoring single to give the Saints a 3-2 lead.

North Georgia wasn't done as Kenny Bellevance would later single with the bases load to score a pair and the give the Saints a three run cushion.

In the bottom of the eighth North Georgia would add an insurance run when Naraine led off with a single and would later come around to score on an error.

After that coach Tom Cantrell turned to Erisman to close the door and he did just that, allowing only one hit over the final two innings to give the Saints their first conference victory of the year.

Quick Notes –

The Saints wrap up the weekend series against UNC Pembroke tomorrow at Bob Stein Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

Erisman extended his streak of reaching base safely to 11 games….Coxwell had his third straight quality start, as did Hobby…Carpenter's home run in game two was his first of the season…The Saints touched Braves game one starter Brad Isom for his first earned runs of the season…