DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of North Georgia baseball team dropped the first game of a three-game, Peach Belt Conference series 13-2 to the eighth-ranked University of South Carolina Aiken at Bob Stein Stadium Friday afternoon.
The Saints (9-16, 3-7 PBC) were able to keep pace with the Pacers (23-5, 10-3 PBC) early in the game, matching them hit-for-hit through the first four innings before USC Aiken put up six runs and six hits in the top of the fifth frame. By the end of the game, the Pacers had collected 16 hits to the Saints' 11 with neither team committing an error.
In the first inning, the nationally-ranked Pacers started things off with four runs off four hits before Kenny Bellavance and Jake McCurry crossed the plate in the bottom of the inning for the Saints to cut the deficit to two. Both Bellavance and McCurry recorded two hits in the game while Travis Naraine earned two RBIs off his single to right-center field which scored the duo.
USC Aiken would score single runs in the third and fourth innings despite being out-hit by North Georgia 4-3. The Saints had several opportunities to keep up as they left three runners on the bases while the Pacers stranded two, but USC Aiken's defense and pitching held off the Saints' attack.
The Pacers, which entered the game averaging 8.5 runs per game, then blew the game wide open in the top of the fifth with six hits and six runs before tacking on the final run in the seventh.
Both Bill Gerstenslager and Ryan Metzler went 3-5 at the plate in the game for USC Aiken while Branden Millhouse went 3-4. Gerstenslager scored three runs, including one home run to center field, while Josh Miller had three RBIs.
Taylor Keinat (1-4) pitched four-plus innings en route to accepting the loss for North Georgia while Ryan Milewski (3-2) recorded five innings of work that included four strikeouts. The Pacers' four pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts while the Saints' quartet of hurlers recorded three strikeouts.
The two teams will close out the series on Saturday, Mar. 23 with a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m. at Bob Stein Stadium. Live stats and a live webcast will be available for both games Saturday.