Baseball earns series win after doubleheader split with UNC Asheville

Michael Felton (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Michael Felton (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK – Campbell lost a tight 3-2 contest in Saturday's opener before responding with a 13-6 victory in the series finale to win the three-game set over visiting UNC Asheville (17-21, 6-8 Big South) this weekend. The Fighting Camels are now 12-0 in the final game of two or three-game series' this season, including a perfect 9-0 during the second game of doubleheaders.

The Camel baseball team (30-8, 8-4 Big South) reaches the 30-win plateau for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2001. The Camels return to action on Tuesday evening at Taylor Field, when CU will host nationally-ranked N.C. State in a 6 p.m. rematch. The Wolfpack defeated Campbell 9-2 in Raleigh earlier this season.

Game 1: UNC Asheville 3, Campbell 2

UNC-Asheville capitalized on three walks in the seventh inning, including a base on balls with the bases loaded that plated the eventual winning run to take a 3-2 victory over Campbell in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader at Taylor Field.

The game started out as a pitcher's duel between Campbell's Frank Zier and Ryan Dull of UNC Asheville. Zier retired the first 11 batters he faced and Dull struck out five of the first six batters he faced, including four CU hitters in a row.

Campbell recorded the first hit of the contest as Bryce Grady provided a leadoff single in the bottom of the third. He was moved over to second by a Blake Boyce sac bunt and was driven in by Muskogee, Okla. native Cam'Ron Summers on an RBI double.

Summers, a junior shortstop, led the Camels in game one by going 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. David Olson continued his hot streak and fished 2-for-4 with a run scored in game one.

With a 1-0 lead, Zier was in a jam in the top of the fifth inning as Aaron Wright reached on a Camel error. Ian Graham followed with a single, giving the Bulldogs their second hit of the game. Zier retired the next two batters to escape the inning with no damage done.

The Bulldogs used timely hitting to take the lead in the sixth. Cody Buch drew a leadoff walk and was moved to second by a Jordan Lurie groundout. Thomas Bess then drove Buch in with an RBI single. After Bess stole second, Patrick Koontz singled to score Bess and give the Asheville a 2-1 lead.

Campbell struck back in the bottom half of the inning. David Olson continued his hot streak as he ripped his 13th double of the season with one out. After a groundout moved Olson to third, Bryce Grady tallied an RBI single that brought Olson to the plate and tied the game at two all.

Zier was relieved by Logan Self to start the seventh inning. Zier went six innings, allowing 4 hits and two earned runs in a no decision, while striking out two and walking one.

Self surrendered a leadoff walk to Graham and a base hit to Todd Joyner to begin the frame. After striking out Eli Miller, Self issued a walk to Cody Buch to load the bases.

With two outs, the Bulldogs took the lead and scored what turned out to be the winning run on a Bess walk, the second RBI of the day for Bess. Self (3-2) got out of the inning with minimal damage by retiring the next Bulldog batter to leave three runners left on base, but ended up taking the loss.

Jake Kirkland recorded a two-out single in the eighth inning with CU trying to mount a rally. Bulldog centerfielder Bess cut short the Camel hopes as he made a diving catch on an Olson fly ball that ended the inning.

Ethan Steible entered the game for Asheville in the ninth and retired the side in order to record his fourth save of the season.

The loss for the Camels was their fourth in Big South play, with all four losses coming by a combined five runs.

Game 2: Campbell 13, UNC Asheville 6

Campbell got on the board early after Jimmy Brenneman drew a leadoff walk and was moved to second on a McQuown sacrifice bunt. Michael Felton brought Brenneman home with a RBI base hit to give the Camels a 1-0 lead.

Asheville responded in the second with a run to draw even. Todd Joyner drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a single from Eli Miller. Jordan Lurie followed with a RBI single to score Joyner and tie the game at 1-1.

CU took charge in the bottom half of the inning with Bryce Grady sparking the offensive burst with a leadoff single. After Nick Ray reached on an error, Ben Fish recorded a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners into scoring position. Cam'Ron Summers came through with another big hit as he doubled down the left field line to plate the two runs and take a 3-1 lead.

Jake Kirkland led off the third with a base hit and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Olson and Grady lined and flied out, Ray drew a two-out walk. Fish immediately follow with a single that plated Kirkland and gave Campbell a 4-1 lead.

Asheville was able to cut into the lead in the fourth. Joyner and Cody Buch both singled to start the inning. An infield error by the CU defense loaded the bases loaded with no outs before Camel starter Andrew Jacobsen induced a double play to record two outs while the Bulldogs scored one run to make it a 4-2 contest. Jacobsen finished off the inning by getting Lurie to groundout to second.

Brenneman led off the bottom half of the fourth with an infield single and was moved over by a McQuown sac bunt. Felton followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out. Kirkland came through again for the Camels with an RBI double that scored Brenneman and Felton and pushed the CU advantage to four runs. In the next at bat, Olson singled to left and an error on the leftfielder allowed Kirkland to score, putting the Camels in front 7-2 after four complete innings.

Ashville struck right back in the fifth inning. Hunter Bryant singled with two outs in the top of the fifth. Billy Creighton then homered to left field to cut the Bulldog deficit to 7-4.

Campbell again answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame. Summers delivered a single and Brenneman followed with a hit by pitch, his 18th of the season that brings him within three hit by pitches of the program career record set by Campbell assistant coach Chris Bangi.

Felton singled for his third hit of the game and drove home Summers. A passed ball allowed both runners to advance and Kirkland singled to bring home Brenneman and give CU a 9-4 lead.

CU scored three in the sixth and one run seventh inning to conclude the scoring. The Camels averaged 9.6 runs per game in the five games during the week, going 4-1 in the stretch.

Matt Marksberry tossed two innings in relief of Jacobsen, allowing two hits and one run in the outing. Jacobsen (4-0) earned the win for Campbell, going six innings and scattering eight hits and four runs (three earned) while striking out five Bulldog batters. David Olson pitched a scoreless ninth to finish off the victory.

Scott Baytala contributed to this article. Baytala is a sophomore Communication Studies major from Washington, N.C.