GREENSBORO, N.C. - Christian Wolfe went 3-for-5 with one run scored, and Lloyd Enzor smashed a tie-breaking two-run home run in the fourth inning to help UNC Greensboro defeat Army, 7-4, in the season opener for both squads Friday afternoon at UNCG Baseball Stadium.
Zach Leach, Cambric Moye and TJ Spina each collected two hits apiece to spark the Spartans' 13-hit attack. Dylan Hathcock (1-0) earned the victory on the mound for UNC Greensboro (1-0) after pitching well in relief. The lefty limited Army to one unearned run on one hit and three walks over 4.1 innings. He totaled a game-high five strikeouts. Corey Taylor collected the save, striking out three of the four batters he faced.
Mark McCants finished 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Daniel Cortes was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI to lead Army (0-1) offensively. The Black Knights were held to five singles on the afternoon. Army starter Chris Rowley (0-1) was touched for five runs (four earned) on nine hits over 3.2 innings of work. He walked two and struck out three.
Army manufactured a run in the top of the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead. Cortes walked leading off the game, advanced to second base on Grant Van Orden's sacrifice bunt and scored when McCants grounded an RBI single up the middle.
The Black Knights' advantage was short-lived, however, as UNC Greensboro plated three runs in the bottom of the first to move in front, 3-1. Wolfe opened the frame with a base hit and Leach followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Trevor Edwards then smacked a two-run double to right-center field to give the Spartans the lead, and Eric Kalbfleisch added an RBI triple to extend the cushion.
Army trimmed UNCG's lead to 3-2 in the top of the second as the Black Knights pushed across an unearned run. Michael Sands, who was hit by a pitch leading off the inning, motored around to third base on a throwing error by the Spartans' catcher and scored on Cortes' RBI groundout.
UNC Greensboro threatened to add to its lead in the bottom of the second, loading the bases with three consecutive singles. Rowley was able to wriggle out of trouble, though, getting Edwards to pop out to shortstop and inducing a fly ball from Enzor.
Army plated another unearned run in the third inning to pull even with UNCG at 3-3. Patrick Mescher was hit by a pitch with one out, moved to second base on Harold Earls' base hit and came around to score when Alex Jensen's grounder to third base was misplayed.
UNCG loaded the bases without a hit in the bottom of the third, but the Spartans were again unable to capitalize as Rowley caught Wolfe looking to end the threat.
Army seemed poised to reclaim the lead in the fourth inning as the Black Knights loaded the bases with one out. Hathcock came on in relief of UNCG starter Max Povse and was able to emerge from the jam unscathed to keep the score deadlocked at 3-all.
After failing to capitalize on golden scoring chances in the second and third innings, UNCG reestablished its two-run lead and moved in front for good in the bottom of the fourth when Enzor crushed a two-run home run over the fence in left-center field. Cole Harrison, who reached on an error leading off the frame, scored in front of Enzor, who turned on a Rowley delivery and pulled it over the fence.
The Spartans increased their lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth on Harrison's sacrifice fly. Moye singled leading off the inning, moved to third base on Wolfe's third base hit of the contest and scored when Harrison fouled out to right field.
Army put together a two-out rally in the sixth inning to score its third unearned run of the contest, trimming UNCG's lead to 6-4. Cortes reached on an error by the Spartan third baseman, moved all the way to third on a wild pitch and scored when the UNCG's catcher threw down to second base on the Black Knights' double-steal attempt. Van Orden was tagged out on the play, but not before Cortes had crossed the plate with Army's fourth run of the contest.
UNC Greensboro got that run back in the bottom of the sixth on Zac MacAneney's RBI triple. Spina ignited the uprising with a one-out double down the left field line, and the Spartans' shortstop cruised home when MacAneney ripped a triple to right field.
Both bullpens performed well over the final three innings as neither team generated much offense in the seventh, eighth or ninth frames.
Army and UNC Greensboro will play the middle game of their three-game series on Saturday, Feb. 16. First pitch from UNCG Baseball Stadium is slated for 2 p.m.
Game Notes: Army falls to 3-4 all-time versus UNC Greensboro ... Army lost its season opener for the third straight season ... six of UNCG's 13 hits went for extra bases, while all of five Army's hits were singles ...there were a total of six errors committed in the contest with UNCG making for miscues and Army a pair of gaffes ... Grant Van Orden made his Army debut, starting today's contest at third base ... Garrison Franklin made his Black Knight debut on the mound as the freshman hurler tossed a scoreless seventh inning ... he struck out the leadoff batter in the seventh and faced the minimum thanks to a double play ... Jacob Page made his Army debut, pinch-hitting leading off the eighth inning ... Davis Marlar made his Army debut, pinch-hitting in the ninth inning ... Jon Crucitti, who missed the entire 2012 season due to injury, appeared as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning ... Brian Hapeman, who sat out the entire 2012 season due to injury, made his Army debut ... he pitched a scoreless eighth inning ... Harold Earls started at second base for the first time in his career ... Alex Jensen and Mark McCants both debuted new jersey numbers with Jensen donning #7 and McCants wearing #5.