UNC Pembroke Wins PBC Baseball Tournament!
COLUMBUS, GA – Brian Willis and Braxton Lewis combined to
scatter nine hits and allow only one run as the Braves won their
first ever PBC baseball tournament championship 2-1 over Augusta
State University. With the win, UNC Pembroke earns the Peach
Belt’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament while improving
to 42-10 on the season. Augusta State, appearing in the PBC
championship game for the first time in school history, sees their
season come to a close with a 25-30 record.
Willis earned his second start of the tournament for the Braves, returning to the lineup after three days’ rest after starting in the tournament opener on Sunday. He ran into immediate trouble as he gave up three straight one-out singles to Jake Sutton, Tristan Toorie and Andy Onufrak to load the bases. With two out, Alex Walker sent a grounder up the middle to score Sutton, giving the Jaguars a 1-0 lead.
UNCP answered in the bottom of the first with both of their runs. Jason Coker took a one-out fastball off the brick wall in right center for a double and then came around to score as the ASU defense suffered a lapse with back-to-back errors that left the bases loaded with one out. Jaguar starter Scott Shipman, also pitching on three days rest, then walked Joe Mangum to score the second run. It would be the only walk Shipman would give up as he got Brad Bridgeman to pop up to third and struck out JJ Williams to end the inning.
There would be no more runs scored in the game as both starting pitchers settled in. UNCP’s Aaron Parnell reached first base in the third inning after strike three rolled to the backstop, but that would be the last Brave baserunner of the game as Shipman retired the final 17 in a row.
Willis was equally as effective, setting down the Jaguars in order in the second, third and fourth innings. In the fifth he issued a walk to Mike Smith, who moved to second on a bunt and to third on a wild pitch before Willis got Jake Sutton to fly out to end the inning.
Willis issued another walk in the sixth to Onufrak which was followed up by a base hit from Walker. On the play, Onufrak attempted to reach third but was gunned down by a perfect throw from Bridgeman in right field to end the inning.
Willis (W, 7-3) was lifted in the seventh for Lewis, who inherited a runner at second base with one out. The first-team All-Conference reliever got out of the inning with a groundout and a strikeout.
ASU had more opportunities in the eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth, Onufrak and Rice collected back-to-back two-out singles but were stranded as Lewis got a strikeout. In the ninth, the Jaguars opened the inning with a single and had the tying run at third with two outs, but Lewis struck out Sutton to end the game.
Lewis was named the tournament MVP for collecting the save, his ninth of the year. He also had two wins during the tournament in his three appearances. Shipman (L, 8-3) took the loss despite tossing the complete game, using 120 pitches to strike out seven with only three hits allowed.
Haley, Coker and Parnell were the only Braves to collect a hit with Mayoz and Parnell driving in the two runs. Coker had the only extra base hit for UNCP with his double in the first.
For Augusta State, Onufrak finished 2-for-3 while Walker and Casey Hanrahan were both 2-for-4. Kevin Dodson had a pair of sacrifice bunts and no Jaguar had an extra-base hit.
UNC Pembroke now advances to the NCAA baseball tournament which begins on Friday, May 20, at a site to be announced. The tournament field will be announced this Sunday, May 15.