Tuesday, February 3, 2015

he Landon Powell era at NGU opened up in a less than ideal manner on Wednesday afternoon, as the North Greenville Baseball team fell to Wingate University 13-2, in North Carolina.

The Crusaders took an early lead with a two run top of the first, sparked by an Allen Station leadoff single. Station would score three batters later after a base and a bases loaded walk. Wheeler Smith, who followed up Station with a single would come around to score after a bases loaded hit by pitch, giving NGU its early advantage. The Crusaders failed to do more damage however, leaving the bases loaded.

Wingate threatened to even the tally in the bottom half of the opening frame, loading the bases with no one out after consecutive base hits and a hit batter. North Greenville starter Hunter Dilworth was able to wiggle his way off the hook though, striking out consecutive batters and inducing a ground out to second, which ended the inning.

The Bulldogs would get themselves on the board in the home half of the second inning, after shutting the Crusaders down in the top half of the frame. The Bulldogs would capitalize on an NGU error, as a two run homer to right field would even the score at 2-2 with two outs. The inning would end on a strikeout, Dilworth's third of the game.

Errors would haunt NGU again in the third inning, as a misplayed fly ball would lead to another unearned run for Wingate. The Bulldogs would go on to extend their lead to 4-2 in the inning with the aid of two hits and an NGU error.

The fourth inning would be uneventful as both teams would go scoreless. The only base runner in the frame would reach for Wingate on a single. The Crusaders would work their way around any damage though with a short to second to first double play.

NGU would continue to struggle at the plate in the 5th, as the Wingate pitching staff was able to work around consecutive two out walks. The Crusaders would only register two more hits in the final four innings of play while stranding three more runners. The Crusaders finished with five hits in 32 plate appearances. The Crusaders stranded 9. Senior Allen Staton led NGU with two hits and a run scored. Wheeler Smith also had a hit and a run scored for the Crusaders.

The Bulldogs would go on to break the game open in fifth inning scoring three runs to take a 7-2 lead. Wingate pounded out three hits in the inning including back to back homeruns which capped the three run outburst. Four runs in the sixth inning and two more in the eighth would put the game out of reach for NGU as the Crusaders were unable to spark a rally in the 9th, stranding one runner after a leadoff single.

The Crusaders used seven pitchers in the loss to Wingate, including Dilworth who went three complete innings, giving up four runs, only one of which was earned. He registered four strikeouts and allowed one free pass on a hit batter. Michael Bonifay was the only other hurler to pitch more than one inning after allowing three hits and two earned runs.

The Crusaders fell to 0-1 on the very young season, but will look to find their way to the winner's column on Friday when they travel to Greenwood, South Carolina to take on the 3rd ranked Lander Bearcats. NGU's 2015 home opener will be on Saturday when NGU will host Lander in a double-header starting 12pm.