Greensboro, N.C. - Trevor Edwards capped a four-run rally with a two-out, two-strike homer in the bottom of the ninth to give UNCG a 13-11 victory over The Citadel and at least temporarily prevent the Bulldogs from clinching second place in the Southern Conference.
The Citadel (32-23, 18-11) needs to win in Saturday's regular season finale to earn the second seed in next week's SoCon tournament in Greenville, and the Bulldogs will finish either third or fourth with a loss. The Spartans, who were already eliminated from tournament consideration prior to the series, improved to 23-31 and 10-19 in the conference.
Saturday's game will begin at 2 p.m., with The Citadel still undecided on its starting pitcher. Senior left hander Corey Taylor will take the mound for UNCG.
The Bulldogs took an 11-9 lead into the bottom of the ninth with closer Skylar Hunter on the mound. Hunter, who worked a perfect eighth, allowed a walk and a single to Nin Marrero and an RBI base hit to Christian Wolfe to make it 11-10 before retiring TJ Spina on a foul out to first.
With The Citadel one out away from victory, the left-handed hitting Edwards took a 2-2 pitch the opposite way and cleared the fence in left center for his school-record 39th career home run. The round tripper was the 13th of the season for Edwards and handed Hunter his fourth loss of the season against two wins.
The Bulldogs had led since putting up five runs in the sixth, including an RBI single by Bo Thompson and a mammoth three-run homer by Tyler Griffin that made it a 9-5 game. The teams traded runs before the Spartans rallied for four straight two-out hits off David Rivera in the seventh and scored three times to pull within 10-9.
Sean Guite got the rally started with a liner off Bailey Rush's glove at third, and Marrero and Spina drove in runs with doubles to bookend an RBI single by Wolfe, the leading hitter in the SoCon. Ross White relieved Rivera and retired Edwards on a grounder to second to keep the Bulldogs barely in front.
The Citadel added what appeared to be an important insurance run in the top of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Joe Jackson, his third RBI of the game, but that was wiped out by the Spartan comeback in its half of the frame.
Ryan Clark worked the ninth for UNCG and allowed one hit and an unearned run and was credited with the victory to up his record to 5-1 on the year.
After scoring three times in the first inning in Thursday's 12-2 win, the Bulldogs again wasted little time putting runs on the board against UNCG starter Max Povse. Hughston Armstrong singled for the first of his three hits on the day, Jackson walked and the runners moved up on a Povse balk. Griffin followed with a two-run single to make it 2-0.
The Spartans scored a run in the bottom of the first on a bases loaded walk to Cambric Moye by Bulldog starter Logan Cribb, but Bo Thompson's team-leading 14th home run in the top of the third matched that run and made it 3-1. UNCG made it a one-run game on an RBI single by Lloyd Enzor in the third and then scored three in the fourth including a two-run base hit by Enzor that put the Spartans ahead 5-3.
Jackson doubled and scored on a Drew DeKerlegand single in the fifth followed by the five-run sixth that appeared to put the Bulldogs in control of the contest.
Griffin went 3-for-5 and drove in a career-high five runs for the second time in three games since returning from his foot injury. His home run in the sixth was his 11th of the year and third since returning to the lineup and gave the Bulldogs a team total of 63 to match the school record for the most in a regular season.
Jackson continued his red-hot hitting with two hits and three runs scored in addition to his three runs knocked in to give him a team-best 61 RBI on the year. He also has 16 doubles and 14 home runs and raised his batting average to .364.