UNCW’s Mat Batts pitched seven shutout innings and Joe Berton hit two home runs to lead UNCW to a 5-0 win over College of Charleston in the first game of a three-game road series at Brooks Field.
The loss snapped College of Charleston’s (31-14, 10-3) nine-game CAA winning streak and 12-game winning streak in weekend series. UNC-Wilmington (22-22, 7-7) evened its season and conference record with the series-opening win.
Batts (5-2) won his fifth consecutive Friday night start with seven strong innings. He allowed eight CofC base-runners on six hits and two walks, but stranded all of them with timely strikeouts. The CAA leader in punchouts, he finished his outing with nine strikeouts. Christian McDonald pitched a scoreless eighth and Kelly Secrest got out of a bases-loaded situation with two outs in the ninth inning.
CofC ace Taylor Clarke (8-3) snapped Charleston’s streak of quality starts at eight in a row. He lasted just 4.1 IP with four runs, three earned, on four hits. Clarke did strike out seven batters with just one walk allowed. Nathan Helvey performed well out of the bullpen to hold UNCW’s lead at just 4-0, but Hunter Rice allowed a solo homer in the eighth inning.
The Seahawks’ offense was led by Bertone who knocked two homers, including a two-run shot in the first inning. Ryan LaGrange was the only other player with multiple hits as he scored a run, while Luke Dunlap hit an RBI double in the first inning.
Charleston’s Carl Wise had a double and single for the Cougars. Gunnar Heidt extended his reached-base streak to 23 games with a two-hit effort, both infield bunt singles. Bradley Jones also knocked a double for Charleston.
Wilmington got out to an early lead in the first inning with a single from Steven Linkous and RBI double from Dunlap. Bertone followed it up with a first-pitch two-run homer to right field that quickly made it 3-0.
Clarke was able to settle in and set down the Seahawk batters until the fourth inning when a two-out throwing error from Champ Rowland allowed a run to score and make it 4-0.
The only other offense of the game came in the eighth inning when Bertone hit a solo homer to left field off Rice for an insurance run.
Charleston loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth after a hit from Rowland, walk from Blake Butler and bunt single from Heidt. Wise struck out on a called third strike to end the threat and give UNCW the 5-0 win.
Both teams go at it again tomorrow at 2 p.m. from Brooks Field. Bailey Ober (7-2) will take the mound for CofC against UNCW’s Jordan Ramsey (1-3). The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 910 AM.