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Diamond Braves open 2012 with wins

By Curtis Brooks
Sports Editor

February 9, 2012

Nate Priest
Photo by Mindy Hubbard
The Braves' Josh Haley connectes with a pitch during UNCP's fall World Series. Against Anderson, Haley finished the series with three hits, two RBI and two runs scored.

Starting the season ranked as the No. 8 team in the nation, the Black and Gold baseball team opened up the 2012 campaign on Feb. 4 and 5 by traveling to Anderson, S.C., to take on the Anderson Trojans.

After a 44-12 record and a trip to the NCAA Southeast Regional in 2011, the Braves started right where they left off from last season, grabbing the weekend sweep of Anderson.

The Braves won by scores of 4-1, 6-1 and 11-8 on the weekend.

The Black and Gold have now defeated the Trojans in eight straight games, including three victories against Anderson in the 2011 season opening weekend.

UNCP is now 16-2 on opening weekend series since the 2008 season.

Game One

In a pitcher's duel, the Braves were able to hold off the Trojans by the final score of 4-1 for the first victory of the season.

Behind senior right-handed pitcher Brad Isom's seven inning performance, UNCP was able to hold the host team to only one run. Isom struck out four batters and surrendered four hits, but was able to secure the victory for the Black and Gold.

Both teams remained scoreless until the seventh inning, when the Braves were able to score three runs off a pair of Anderson errors to take control of the game.

Senior Brad Bridgeman led the Braves offensive attack with two hits and a RBI. Freshman Victor Zecca and Jordan Edgerton recorded their first hits and RBI of their collegiate careers.

All-American Braxton Lewis pitched two innings in relief work to get the save for UNCP. Lewis surrendered the only run of the game to Anderson, but managed to hold the hosts to only a single hit while striking out two batters.

Game Two

Led by newcomer Jordan DeLoatch's work on the mound, UNCP was able to defeat Anderson 6-1 in seven innings in the second game of the series.

DeLoatch earned the victory, striking out seven Anderson batters in six innings of work in his collegiate debut. The freshman allowed only three base runners in the first five innings, before getting himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Bridgeman had a pair of doubles and scored two runs for the Braves. Freshman Dalton Knight went 2-for-3, recording an RBI in the third inning. Zecca recorded his two RBIs for the Black and Gold on the third inning single.

Freshman pitcher Connor Pratt recorded his first collegiate inning, allowing a hit in relief work.

Game Three

The Black and Gold were able to complete the sweep of Anderson by the score of 11-8 in the series' finale after a back and forth offensive game.

UNCP was able to take an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after a solo homerun by senior Eitan Maoz, but a first inning grand slam by Anderson freshman pitcher Erick Sanderson allowed the home team to take a 4-1 lead all the way into the fourth inning.

The Braves were able to score five runs in the fourth inning, but Anderson responded with four runs of their own. UNCP was able to hold Anderson to zero runs over the final five innings, while scoring five runs - three in the fifth inning and two in the sixth - to secure the victory.

Senior Brantley Hattrich struck out seven batters across 4-2/3 hitless innings to pick up the win for the Black and Gold.

Lewis picked up his second save of the weekend after pitching a flawless ninth inning.

Maoz led the Braves offensive surge with two hits, including his first inning home run.

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