DAHLONEGA, GA – The 11th-ranked North Georgia baseball team erased a four-run deficit on Wednesday afternoon to battle back and sweep away 2nd-ranked West Florida at Bob Stein Stadium in non-conference action.
The Saints win their second straight game, topping the 2nd-ranked Argonauts for the second time in as many days as North Georgia improves to 11-3 overall. West Florida drops back-to-back games for the first time this season, falling to 13-3 on the year.
The Saints scored the game's first run in the opening inning when Derek Hooper put down a bunt single and later came around to score on a Troy Snitker base knock up the middle to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
The West Florida offense came to life over the next two innings as the Argonauts tallied two runs in the second frame and three more in the third to jump out to a 5-1 lead. Eric Kroll provided the blow in the second inning with a two-run homer to right field, while Dustin Lawley and Greg Pron connected with RBI doubles in the third inning to give the Argos a 5-1 lead.
North Georgia responded in the fourth inning with a huge two-out rally. Jordan Erisman watched ball four to force in the first run of the inning, and Hooper stayed red hot, lining a double down the left field line to plate two more and pull the Saints to within a run at 5-4. Terrell Jones followed with a swinging bunt that trickled down the first base line, but Jones legged out the infield hit to send Erisman home and knot the score at 5-5.
Kenny Bellavance led off the fifth inning and reached on an error by the Josh Huggins, but it took another two-out rally to put North Georgia on top as Alan Fredriksson singled past a diving Leo Lamarche at second base, plating the speedy Bellavance making it a 6-5 lead for the Saints.
North Georgia added insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings to pull away for the 8-5 win. Matt Smith (1-0) came on in relief and picked up the win, tossing 3.2 innings and not allowing a run, while Jesse Coxwell came on and slammed the door for his first save of the year, going 2.2 innings and allowing two hits and no runs, while striking out one.
The Saints return to action over the weekend, welcoming top-ranked Georgia College to town for a key Peach Belt Conference series. North Georgia's third-straight top-25 matchup will pair the Saints and Bobcats in a single game on Friday at 6:00 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.