DAHLONEGA, Ga. – No. 26 North Georgia exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning against No. 9 UNC Pembroke on Sunday afternoon en route to an 8-1 victory at Bob Stein Stadium. After losing the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 6-5, the Saints came back to win the nightcap 6-2 and then claimed the series victory Sunday.
The Saints (9-3, 2-1 PBC) took the rubber game behind a dominant performance from starter Taylor Keinat. Keinat threw his best game for North Georgia, going the distance and scattering six hits, while striking out five and allowing only one earned run.
The Braves (12-3, 3-2 PBC) lost back-to-back games for the first time this year.
After surrendering a leadoff bunt single, Keinat retired the next 11 batters. He did a great job changing speeds and mixing up his pitches and did not allow a base hit out of the infield until the sixth inning. Braves starter Alex Pearce was locked in early as well, getting out of jams in the first and sixth innings.
Both offenses were relatively quiet through the first six and a half innings before the Saints erupted in the seventh. For the second consecutive day, North Georgia sent at least nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
Andrew Gordon got things started with a shot back up the middle and Eason Spivey moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. After intentionally walking leadoff hitter Jordan Erisman, Braves skipper Paul O’Neil turned to Braxton Lewis to get his team out of the jam for the second consecutive day.
The Saints welcomed Lewis with three consecutive hits, including an RBI single by Derek Hooper, a triple to deep center that scored a pair of runs by Terrell Jones and an RBI single by Kenny Bellavance.
After Travis Naraine reached on an error and Dustin Carpenter sent an RBI single to left, the Braves went to the bullpen once again as Connor Pratt relieved Lewis. Brad Barto sent an RBI single through the right side to greet Pratt and after an Andrew Gordon walk, Spivey capped the scoring sending a sac fly to right to plate Carpenter.
In total, the Saints scored seven runs on six hits in the frame. Through the first 12 games, North Georgia is outscoring its opponents 25-9 in the seventh inning.
The Braves cut the deficit to six in the top of the eighth when Eitan Moaz slapped a grounder to first to score a run, but the Saints answered in the bottom of the frame when Naraine hit a sac fly to left plating Jones.
Bellavance and Jones each went 3 for 4. Jones had a pair of runs scored and a pair RBI, while Bellavance knocked in a run and scored a run.
Eight of the nine starters for the Saints had a hit and seven of the nine had an RBI. That effort came against a UNC Pembroke team with an ERA of 1.89 entering the weekend. The Braves head home with a team ERA of 2.56.