UNC Asheville fought back from a two-run deficit to win their first Big South Conference game Friday night at Greenwood Field. The Bulldogs defeated the Presbyterian Blue Hose 7-4 under the spotlight of an ESPN3 broadcast team.
“Our guys were getting on base and we were putting good swings on the ball,” UNCA head coach Scott Friedholm said.
UNCA’s Jordan Fulbright, sophomore left-hander, and Presbyterian’s Brian Kehner, left-handed junior, started the game and pitched strong innings for their side.
Kehner lasted 5.1 innings with seven strikeouts. Fulbright pitched seven complete innings and ran through the Blue Hose order three times striking out seven, two in his final inning of work. Friedholm said Fulbright helped keep the bullpen fresh for the rest of the weekend series.
“It saves us. We end up using two guys out of the bullpen, but both guys only threw one inning and less than 20 pitches,” Friedholm said.
Both starting pitchers received no-decisions because the game stood tied 2-2 going into the eighth inning. UNCA brought in Tyler Hughes, right-handed sophomore, in relief of Fulbright. Lead-off man Cletis Avery got a hit to left field and Tyler Weyenberg bunted an infield hit to put two Blue Hose on base. Weston Jackson, Presbyterian right fielder, then hit a double to deep right center allowing Avery and Weyenberg to score. The Bulldogs stopped the next three batters and escaped the inning down only two runs, 4-2.
The UNCA offense began the eighth with a groundout, but a walk drawn by Joe Tietjen, junior center fielder, and then Lucas Owens, sophomore second baseman, earned first base by taking his team leading ninth hit-by-pitch, put the tying runs on base.
The Blue Hose closer, Hayden Deal, entered the game to shut down the threat. Deal boasted a 1.88 ERA in 14. 1 innings in 13 appearances. Kyle Carruthers, Bulldog junior right fielder, hit a double on Deal’s first pitch that scored Tietjen and moved Owens to third.
Deal struck out Alex Baratta, Bulldog freshman third baseman who went 1-for-4, with four pitches, but his second pitch to Justin Woods, junior designated hitter, sent Woods to first with the team’s second hit-by-pitch. It loaded the bases and extended the inning.
Erik Connolly, Bulldog senior outfielder, replaced Scott Kobos, freshman left fielder at the bottom of UNCA’s batting order in the seventh inning and delivered an infield hit, which scored Owens to tie the game.
Derek Smith, Bulldog junior shortstop, singled to right center scoring two more runs and Pete Guy, senior catcher, hit a RBI single into right to complete the Bulldog scoring. The Bulldogs led 7-4.
“Kyle Carruthers and Derek Smith came up with two huge hits for us to tie the game and take the lead,” Friedholm said.
Eric Whitecavage, Bulldog freshman right-hander, closed out the Blue Hose to earn the save and UNCA’s first Big South Conference win. The Bulldogs advance to 6-20 on the season and faced Presbyterian College Saturday and Sunday.