Spartans edge Aggies, 5-4By Joe Daniels, Sports Director / March 31, 2017
North Carolina A&T got off to a great start against crosstown rival UNC Greensboro at First National Bank Field, home of the city’s minor league baseball team the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Wednesday night. The Spartans, however, kept chipping away at the Aggies’ lead until they came away with a 5-4 win in non-conference baseball play.
Senior Timothy Ravare was 2-for-3 with three RBI for the Aggies, while junior Greg White went 2-for-5. Adan Ordonez saw his 10-game hitting streak end after going 0-for-3 but Ordonez did reach base for the 17th straight game. The Aggies dropped to 10-9 on the season, while the Spartans improved to 13-8.
It was Ravare who got the Aggies going in the first inning. Myles Sowell helped to set the table when he was hit by a 1-2 pitch from UNCG starter Travis Tuttle. Tuttle then walked Ordonez and Dawnoven Smith to load the bases for Ravare who promptly doubled to clear the bases to secure a 3-0 lead.
N.C. A&T’s lead grew to four in the third as Ravare found himself in the mix again. Ravare’s two-out double down the right field line kept the inning alive. An error by UNCG shortstop Tripp Shelton gave the Aggies more life as Ravare scored on the mishap.
UNCG slowly took down the Aggies’ lead over their next four at-bats starting in the home half of the third with a home run by Austin Embler. In the fourth, Embler came through again for the Spartans as he produced an RBI single as Ryan Clinch scored on an unearned run to cut N.C. A&T’s lead to 4-2. The fifth inning inched the Spartans even closer as Andrew Moritz’s leadoff triple led to an RBI sacrifice fly by Cesar Trejo to get the Aggies lead down to one.
The Spartans captured the lead in the sixth. Devin Ruiz led off the inning with a single off right-hand reliever Josh Stikeleather. Ruiz stole second to move into scoring position. After striking out Clinch, Stikeleather gave up an RBI single to Ryne Sigmon that tied the game at 4. Left-hander Matt Stanley replaced Stikeleather and gave up a single to Embler which was compounded by an error in center field that allowed Embler to move to third.
Ben Spitznagel’s RBI bunt single gave the Spartans to lead as Embler scored for the 5-4 lead. UNCG’s bullpen steadied the Spartans after the Aggies chased Tuttle in the first inning. Over the next 8 1/3 innings the Spartan bullpen did not give up an earned run. The Aggies had their moments out of the bullpen as well. Cutter Dyals pitched 2 2/3 innings, surrendering one hit and striking out four. Andrew Wantz (5-2) picked up the win in relief while Stikleather (0-1) took the loss. Chad Sykes picked up his fifth save of the season.