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Braves sweep series of ranked teams

By Nick Phillips
Sports Editor

Braves rip Fayetteville State
Photo by Nick Phillips
Braves senior Keith Whitman celebrates with teammates tying the
UNCP record for most career home runs on April 9.

In a clash of two nationally ranked teams, the Peach Belt Conference cross-divisional series between the UNCP baseball team and Georgia College on April 9 and 10 did not disappoint.

The No. 11 Braves took two close matchups in the series' opening doubleheader by scores of 4-2 and 4-3 before blowing out the visitors 10-0 in the finale, giving UNCP its seventhstraight 30-win season.

The three wins extended UNCP's winning streak to six games, while it was also the Braves first ever series sweep over No. 9 Georgia College.

Opening win

In the series opener, the Braves received a stellar pitching performance from senior Josh Bagley, who held Georgia College to only three hits over 7-2/3 innings of work in UNCP's 4-2 win.

Senior Keith Whitman doubled and homered in a 2-for-4 performance, while fellow senior Jason Coker and junior Josh Haley each added 2-for-4 afternoons as well.

On the hill, Bagley struck out four batters in his performance to grab his fourth win of the season before redshirt junior Braxton Lewis finished the final four outs, with two coming via strikeout.

Georgia College scored in the top of the first inning, but UNCP answered right back with three runs in the bottom of the first, using back-to-back RBI doubles from Whitman and Coker.

Whitman blasted a twoout homer in the fifth to extend the lead before the Bobcats' RBI single in the eighth inning brought the game to the final score.

Big homers

In the second game of the series, Whitman and Coker each belted homers, while UNCP senior pitcher Brad Isom earned his teamleading seventh win of the season.

Isom struck out three batters and scattered four hits over seven innings of work.

Coker finished 2-for-3 with the home run, while junior Brad Bridgeman had two singles as well.

Whitman's solo shot put him in prime company, as he tied former Brave Jason Morales for the most home runs all-time in UNCP history with 40 homers in his career.

Georgia College scored first, plating a run in the second inning, before UNCP responded with three runs in the bottom of the third inning highlighted by Haley's RBI double and Whitman's home run.

In the fifth inning, Coker belted his own tworun homer to give the Braves insurance runs before Georgia College added two final runs with a homer of their own in the eighth inning.

Blowout finale

In the series' final game, the UNCP bats left no doubt about the outcome of the contest, exploding for a 10- 0 win.

The Braves knocked 15 hits over the afternoon as they saw senior Brian Willis turn in seven innings while striking out nine batters.

Coker finished 4-for-4 with a double and three singles while scoring three times to lead the Braves, while Haley homered as part of his three-hit day.

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Updated: Sunday, April 17, 2011
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