May 3, 2013

Saints Defeat Georgia College 6-3 on "Senior Night"

DAHLONEGA, Ga. - On a night when the University of North Georgia baseball team celebrated the careers of three seniors, the Saints put together one of their best performances of the season en route to defeating Georgia College 6-3 at Bob Stein Stadium in Peach Belt Conference action.

Prior to the game, the Saints (18-29, 9-19 PBC) recognized seniors Kenny Bellavance, Derek Hooper and Brett Wright for their contributions over the past four seasons and rewarded the trio with a win.

North Georgia also recognized the end of an era Friday night as the Saints played for one of the final times under the current nickname. Next season, UNG athletic teams will compete under the nickname "Nighthawks" and to honor more than 40 years of having competed as the Saints, Chief Mike Stapleton threw out the honorary first pitch with Bentley the saint bernard by his side.

In the game, all six runs for North Georgia were unearned as the Bobcats (29-17, 16-12 PBC) committed five errors and left eight runners stranded on base on a night when GC desperately needed a win. The Bobcats entered the game seventh in the league standings, but a win in Friday's game and a weekend sweep over UNG would have surged GC up into fifth in heading into the conference tournament next week.

Bellavance fittingly scored the Saints' first run of the game on a beautifully executed hit-and-run play as he and Kevin Krupp both took off just before Devin Gearhart ripped a single into right field. Gearhart ended the night 2-4 with two runs batted in and another run scored to lead UNG at the plate.

Georgia College did manage to tie the game back up at 1-1 briefly in the fourth inning, but the Saints were not to be denied as they plated three more unearned runs in the bottom of the frame, including two off a home run to right field by UNG first baseman Brad Barto. Krupp also scored just prior to Barto's homer off a sacrifice fly to center field by Wright.

The Saints added the final two runs in the bottom of the fifth with both Travis Naraine and Tremayne Toorie each scoring.

Georgia College did manage to push a run across in both the eighth and ninth innings, but closer Brandon Agar and the Saints' defense held on to secure the victory. Agar pitched the final four innings, striking out two, to earn his sixth save of the season, a mark that has him fourth in the conference.

Clint Spratlin (3-4) started the game on the mound for UNG and earned the win in five solid innings of work that saw him give up just two hits, one earned run and three walks compared to striking out four batters.

Matt LaMothe (6-4) was saddled with the loss for Georgia College as he pitched the first four innings, giving up six hits, four runs and two walks while striking out just one batter.

The two programs will attempt to close out the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, May 4, but due to the threat of rain moving through the Dahlonega area, Saturday's twinbill has been moved up to start at 12 noon. The second game will follow at approximately 3:30 p.m.


Above: Prior to the game, Faculty Athletic Rep Margaret Poitevint presented Nick Bader, Jacob Beauchamp, Kenny Bellavance, Reeves Blankenship, Cameron Crawford, Andrew Gordon, Derek Hooper, and Travis Naraine with certificates honoring their dedication off the field as all nine have maintained at least a 3.2 GPA while participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Above: Chief Mike Stapleton throws out the honorary first pitch while his wife Debbie and their saint bernard Bentley look on.

Above: Catcher Eason Spivey and head coach Tom Cantrell pose with Chief Stapleton, his wife Debbie and Bentley prior to the game.

Above: Head Coach Tom Cantrell presents the three seniors, Kenny Bellavance, Derek Hooper and Brett Wright with plaques to honor their contributions to the UNG baseball program.