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|Bagley's two-hit gem gives Braves first NCAA win
By Nick Phillips, Editor
May 19, 2011
Senior pitcher Josh Bagley threw a complete game, two-hit shutout and fellow senior Keith Whitman blasted two home runs as the No. 7 Braves beat 14th-ranked Columbus State 6-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Southeastern Regional on May 19.
The Braves now advance to play NO. 19 Catawba on May 20 at 7 p.m., a team UNCP defeated on the road 10-3 on April 28 as part of UNCP's now 10-game winning streak.
The win was UNCP's first in NCAA postseason play in their first-ever postseason game.
"I think the (winning) the first game is the most important. You have to stay in the winner's bracket so we were going to do everything we needed to do to win this one. I don't have to say a whole lot to these guys this time of year. They know what they have to do. They are older guys and they are just going out and playing right now," UNCP coach Paul O'Neil said.
Bagley picked a great afternoon for arguably his best outing of the season, as he struck out a career-high 13 batters and allowed only two hits, both to Columbus State leadoff batter Ryan Lewis, in the first and third innings.
"I was throwing all of my pitches for strikes today," Bagley said.
"I was getting ahead of the batters and my slider was working. I was able to get in on a few guys, kept the ball down and was able to get the ground ball (out) when I needed to," Bagley added.
Whitman led the offensive attack with a 3-for-4 day at the plate with 3-RBI's as part of the Braves' 28th double-digit hit game of the season. Senior Jason Coker added two RBI's along with two hits, while junior Aaron Parnell tripled as part of a 3-for-4 hitting day.
With zeros across the scoreboard through three innings despite both teams having opportunities, Whitman gave the Braves the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth when he sent his 11th home run of the year over the left field wall.
In the seventh inning, UNCP junior Alex Pearce led off the inning with a walk before fellow junior josh Haley 's double gave the Braves two base runners for Coker to knock a two-run single to push the lead to 3-0.
Whitman again made noise, stepping in and delivering his second home run of the afternoon to extend the lead further.
A one-out single by Pearce in the eighth inning and advanced to third on a Columbus State error before scoring on a wild pitch to cap the day's scoring.