PEMBROKE — With Major League scouts representing the Washington Nationals and New York Mets organizations looking on from behind home plate, preseason All-American Jordan Edgerton did what he does best after stepping in the box.
The junior third baseman crushed the baseball.
“I just went out there and tried to do what I could for the team, same as every game,” Edgerton said. “You just always try to play as hard as you can no matter who’s watching and let everything else fall into place.”
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s most sought after player had a career effort during Monday’s game against Pitt.-Johnstown, going 5-for-5 with a pair of homers in a 19-4 rout.
Edgerton tallied 14 total bases in six plate appearances and drove in a personal-best seven runs as the Braves (6-0) finished off a three-game sweep to stay unbeaten this season.
“He kept coming up with guys on base and he kept delivering,” UNCP coach Paul O’Neil said. “Jordan had an awesome day. He did everything we asked him to do with the bat.”
Not since shortstop Jason Morales — who was selected in the 24th round by the Kansas City Royals during the 2008 First-Year Player Draft — have the Braves had a player make as much noise with his bat. Edgerton hit .391 last spring and is at .538 this season with a team-best 13 RBI.
His mammoth two-run blast to left in the seventh was UNCP’s fourth homer of day and chased Pitt.-Johnstown reliever Ryan Socol. Edgerton added a two-run single through the middle with the bases juiced the following inning in his final at-bat.
“I didn’t think the ball would travel out of here, but there were some balls today that we hit very well,” O’Neil said. “They were stroked out of here or anywhere due to how hard they were hit.”
The Braves scored runs in every inning except the second and overcame an early 2-0 hole in the top of the first. Starter Connor Pratt scattered six hits over four innings and earned the decision in O’Neil’s predetermined rotation.
UNCP starters are a combined 6-0 with a 3.66 ERA through six games.
“It’s good that we got the sweep, but we still have to get the ball down in the strike zone,” O’Neil said. “Connor’s got to get the ball down. Both Connor and (Andy) Sullivan have talent, they’re just both throwing a lot of balls over the plate that are elevated at this time. That needs to change for us to be successful.”
Braves take a pair
On Sunday, starting pitching dominated the doubleheader for UNCP as Nos. 1 and 2 hurlers Logan Cook and Garrett Hickman tossed a combined 12 scoreless innings against the Mountain Cats. It was the second straight near-perfect start for Hickman who hasn’t allowed a run in his first two appearances with the Braves.
Fairmont freshman Alex Britt made his college debut during a 10-2 victory in the nightcap, scattering four hits and two runs over three innings of work. Britt struck out three and had no walks.
The 16th-ranked Braves will have a few days off before traveling to Columbus, Ga., this weekend for their Peach Belt Conference opening series at Columbus State (3-4). Runs will come at a premium against one of the league’s top pitching staffs perennially.
Edgerton says the team will take the same mindset into the pivotal three-game slate as they have throughout the early-going.
“We don’t have to out there and play against them …. we’re playing against our best,” Edgerton said. “If we do that and play well, we’ll be alright.”
Monday’s Box Score
UNCP 19, Pitt-Johnstown 4
Pitt-Johnstown 200000200 — 4 11 2
UNC Pembroke 20522125x — 19 17 1
W — Connor Pratt; L — Nate Pope
Leading hitters — UNCP: Edgerton 5-5, 2 HR, 7 RBI; Schmucker 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Huffman 2-3, HR; Denton 2-3, 2 RBI. PJHN — Warner 3-4.
Records — UNCP 6-0; Pitt-Johnstown 0-3.
Reach Brad Crawford at 910-272-6111 or on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.