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Braves drop two of three in road series
By Nick Phillips
The seventh-ranked UNCP baseball team hit a PBC roadblock on the road March 26 and 27, dropping the first two games of their three game set with No. 22 Columbus State before recovering to win the finale.
In the opener, the Braves found themselves on the wrong side of a two-hit shutout by Columbus State's Thomas Campbell, while the hosts got two home runs offensively.
UNCP juniors Aaron Parnell and Brad Bridgeman tallied the only two hits for the Braves in the game.
Braves senior Josh Bagley was saddled with his first loss of the season after giving up seven hits, three walks and four runs over 6 1/3 innings of work. Bagley also struck out seven Columbus State batters.
Columbus State got on the board in the second inning thanks to a Ryan Lewis two-run homer, and the score would remain there until Logan Dollar, leading off the bottom of the sixth, moved the lead to 3-0.
Columbus State added their final run on a RBI single in the seventh inning.
In the second game, Columbus State came back from an early UNCP lead to win 4-2 in a game that began on March 26 before being interrupted by lighting and resumed on March 27.
Braves senior Keith Whitman belted his fourth home run of the year, while Bridgeman and senior Jason Coker added two hits in the loss.
Senior pitcher Brad Isom fell to 5-2 on the year after giving up four runs and nine hits while striking out four Columbus State batters.
UNCP got on the board first in the fourth inning, with junior Eitan Maoz reaching base on a two-out bunt single before Whitman's blast.
Columbus State would take the game from there, however, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game before a home run in the fifth inning and a RBI single in the sixth to move it to the final, 4-2 score.
The Braves' bats finally came alive in the final game of the series, knocking 14 hits around the field en route to a 9-1 win.
Parnell had two RBI doubles and scored twice in a 3-for-4 performance, while Maoz also had a three-hit game while turning in three RBIs.
Senior Joe Mangum had two RBIs to go with two hits, while senior Kenny Mickens also tallied two hits.
Senior Brian Willis struck out two batters and allowed only four hits over six innings for his thirdstraight win since being moved to the starting rotation.
Junior Braxton Lewis gave up only one hit in the final three innings for the save.
UNCP jumped on the board in the first inning with Maoz's RBI single before Columbus State tallied their only run of the day in the bottom of the frame.
The Braves scored three runs in the second inning with two outs to jump ahead for good before adding a run in the seventh and eighth innings.
The visitors capped the win with a three-run ninth inning that saw eight hitters go to the plate.