FLORENCE, S.C. — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke baseball team came up just short in Saturday’s Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship, falling 6-5 to Georgia College.
The 24th-ranked Braves (40-15) sent their entire order to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally back from a six-run deficit, but the Bobcats (35-13) fended off UNCP in the ninth to lock up the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Southeast Regional.
It was the second tournament championship game appearance in the last seven years for the Braves, who will await their NCAA postseason fate until Sunday’s evening’s 10 p.m. announcement at NCAA.com. The victory marked the third PBC Tournament championship in the last five years for Georgia College.
Drew Beaver doubled in a run and scored once on a 2-for-4 day at the plate to pace the Black & Gold, who got 2-hit showings from four other players as well. Four different players recorded RBI for the Braves as well. Tournament MVP and PBC Player of the Year Brandon Benson tripled and drove in a run on a 3-for-4 showing to lead Georgia College.
Kyle Ramsey (4-3) yielded five earned runs on eight hits and a trio of walks in three innings of work to take the loss for UNCP. Kane Keith (5-0) kept the Braves off balance for most of the day and picked up the win, as well as a spot on the all-tournament team, after scattering nine hits and allowing a trio of earned runs in seven strong innings from the hill.
Hank Simpson inherited a bases-loaded jam with none gone in the fourth and locked it down the rest of the way out, striking out six and surrendering just three hits and a lone unearned run in six innings of relief. Simpson earned a spot on the all-tournament team, as did River Ryan and Nick Salisbury.
Georgia College climbed on UNCP early, scoring two runs in the first and one more in the second to grab a quick 3-0 lead. The Bobcats added two more in the fourth to grab a commanding 5-0 advantage, but then pushed across an insurance run on the shoulders of a costly error with two outs in the seventh to go ahead by six runs.
The Braves would change their fortunes in the eighth inning, however, loading the bases with their first three at-bats of the frame to chase Keith from the mound, and then erasing the shutout thanks to a wild pitch from all-conference reliever Grant Khan. Consecutive RBI knocks from Debo (sac fly), Beaver (double), Luke Jackson (single) and Salisbury (groundout) would eventually provide the final.