Lexington, Va. – UNCG turned it’s first triple play since 2007 and Michael Goss produced one of his best days in a Spartans uniform en route to an 8-5 win over VMI Sunday.
Senior first baseman Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga State) went 3-for-5 on the day and produced four RBI in the win. The stellar performance from the senior included a three-run home run to give UNCG its first lead of the series in the top of the first. Goss was also a part of UNCG’s 5-4-3-2 triple play, the program’s first since 2007.
“Goss told me in batting practice that it was gonna be a good day today,” Jarrett said. “Sure enough he hit a ball as far as I’ve ever seen him hit one that gave us our first lead of the series and that really jumpstarted our team.”
Goss’ three hit day marked the 13th multiple hit day for the senior. His four RBI matched the most RBI the first baseman has had this season.
Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) (2), Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) (2) and Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) (2) also had multiple hit days for the Spartans in the victory.
Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) earned the start for UNCG and picked up his fifth win of the season (5-2). The right-hander went 5.0 innings and gave up five runs on six hits while striking out four Keydets.
The Spartans bullpen cleaned up the backend of the game as both Brandon Stephens (Willow Spring, N.C./Wake Christian Academy) and Alex Sova (Midland, Mich./Kellogg CC) went two innings each of scoreless ball.
UNCG wasted little time to get on the scoreboard Sunday, as they plated three runs in the opening frame. Moritz used a two-out base hit through the right side to get the rally started. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) followed with a walk to put runners on at first and second. A three-run blast up the mountains in left field lit the scoreboard for the Spartans.
In the bottom of the second inning VMI’s Tyler Tharp blasted a solo home run to close the gap to 3-1. The home run marked the fourth of the weekend for the Keydet right fielder.
With runners at the corners in the top of the third Goss made the Keydets pay once again. This time the first baseman slashed an RBI single into shallow left field to drive home Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC).
VMI scored three unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth inning combined. In the fourth frame Matt Dunlevy singled down the right field line to drive in Matt Pita. The run marked the second of the game for the Keydets and cut the gap to 4-2.
The Keydets tied the game, 4-4, an inning later with a Collin Fleischer two-run homer to left field.
“It was a grind but our guys the resiliency that we’ve shown on occasion on Sunday afternoons this year is the trademark of this team,” said Jarrett.
UNCG loaded the bases in the sixth for Spitznagel. The right fielder launched a sacrifice fly to centerfield brining home Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman HS) and to regain the lead for the Spartans, 5-4. Tripp Shelton followed up with a two-out RBI-single to centerfield that plated Austin Embler Southern (Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) to push the lead out to 6-4.
After five innings of work Loats exited the game in the top of the sixth with runners at the corners. Stephens replaced Loats to get the Spartans out of the jam. After allowing one runner to come across Stephens dialed up a 5-4-3-2 triple play to keep UNCG out front 6-5.
“(Stpehens) got the triple play which was a well executed pitch and then Caleb (Webster)’s was crisp and on target and Embler had a really nice pivot which allowed all that to happen,” said Jarrett. “If you don’t execute every part of that it’s impossible to happen. You rarely see a play like that. But it was really well done and it was a big part of the game.”
The triple play was the first for the Blue and Gold since May 25, 2007 vs. Georgia Southern in the SoCon Tournament.
UNCG tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth on an RBI-fielder’s choice off the bat of Spitznagel to bring home Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI). The run pushed the Blue and Gold’s lead back to two runs, 7-5.
Sova closed the door in the ninth with a pair of flyouts and a groundout to earn his first career save.
“Sova came in and was very effective to close it,” said Jarrett. “That was something we really needed and he came up big for us today.”
UNCG returns home to take on the Citadel for a three-game set beginning on Friday May 12. The first pitch Friday is slated for 6 p.m. with the game being broadcast live on ESPN3.
Story Credit: UNCG