Nighthawks Fall Victim to Braves in Series
By John Hernly, Sports Writer
The UNCP baseball team hosted the North Georgia Nighthawks in a three-game series that was played over two days.
The Braves found success in the series by winning two of the three games against the Nighthawks.
The opening game was played on March 15. The Braves found success in this first game matchup as they took down the Nighthawks 3-1.
Undefeated pitcher Wes Heslabeck (3-0), got the start for the Black and Gold.
Heslabeck provided a strong six-inning performance in which he only gave up one run and five hits.
UNCP was the first team to earn a run in the game when Dalton Knight singled to right field to bring in Zade Denton for an RBI.
In the second inning of play, North Georgia answered back with a home run from Tremayne Toorie. UNCP scored again in the fourth inning with a deep home run to left field from Chad Whitehead.
Another homer from Collins Cuthrell in the sixth inning gave the Braves a 3-1 lead over North Georgia.
Thanks to the strong pitching relief from Alex Britt, the Braves were able to hang onto the lead and finish the game with the win.
Unlike the first game the Braves found no success against North Georgia as the Black and Gold went on to lose 6-1.
North Georgia’s pitching was strong with only allowing the Braves to get five hits and one run.
The Nighthawks offense also was key in the victory with multiple hits on Braves pitchers.
The first four innings of the matchup went scoreless until North Georgia scored the first run in the top of the fifth.
The Nighthawks had two more one run innings in the seventh and eighth inning of play.
In the top of the ninth, North Georgia added three more runs to take a 6-0 lead.
While the Braves scored one run in the ninth inning it was not enough to overcome the deficit.
The third game of the series, which was played on March 16, proved to be the most competitive and high scoring game of the series between the teams.
Connor Pratt took the mound for the Braves and put on a decent four-inning performance.
Pratt was relieved in the fifth inning by Logan Cook.
The offense for the Black and Gold started off strong in the first two innings of play.
Ben Schmucker hit a double into centerfield that scored two runners in the first.
In the second Drew Cole hit in a RBI single to give the Braves a 3-0 lead over North Georgia.
The Nighthawks were held scoreless until the fourth and fifth innings, where they scored a total of three runs to even to score at three.
However, the Black and Gold quickly took the lead back as the offense had a five run explosion.
Multiple Braves played a part in the five run scoring outburst that gave UNCP a 8-3 lead.
In the sixth inning North Georgia added another run thanks to a home run.
In the ninth inning, North Georgia gave the Black and Gold a scare with almost completing a comeback.
The Nighthawks scored three runs to only trail by one run.
The Black and Gold survived when Britt struck out the last batter in the game to win 8-7 over the North Georgia Nighthawks.
Photo by Stefanie Smith. Wiley Jackson throws to first in a game earlier this season.