MOUNT OLIVE — After a quick turnaround from a 13-inning contest that took a lot out of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke baseball team, there wasn’t much left in the tank come Saturday morning.
After fighting back before falling to Mount Olive in their second game of the NCAA Southeast regional, the Braves faced a win-or-go-home situation against Lincoln Memorial that started 14 hours after the conclusion of UNCP’s first loss of the tournament
The run was mentally and physically taxing for the Braves, who saw their season end in an 11-6 loss to the Railsplitters.
“We just ran out of gas,” UNCP coach Paul O’Neil said after his team played its eighth game in 20 days. “Between playing the Peach Belt tournament and going to the championship game, and then playing 13 innings last night, we emptied the tank last night and couldn’t find any more juice today.”
After using four pitchers in the loss on Friday, the Braves pitching staff struggled against a Lincoln Memorial (35-18) team that exploded in the fifth inning to take control of the game.
Starter Kyle Boraski pitched four innings, but three quick hits and runs came in during his short stint in the fifth inning and was relieved by Aaron Biggerstaff. The Railsplitters scored four of their five runs in the inning before the Braves got an out. Logan Augustine singled up the middle and a run scored after Nick Salisbury booted the ball into the outfield. Russell Clark, Timmy Wages and Eric Kalman followed up with RBI base hits before a fielder’s choice sent the final run of the inning home, giving Lincoln Memorial the 7-3 lead.
UNCP (41-17) took the lead on two occasions before the fifth inning. Two batters was all the Braves needed in the first inning to put the first run on the board when Lucas Ledford put a bunt down with Roberto Rivera on second. The throw to first on the play sailed high and sent Rivera home.
A Mason Ewers two-run homer gave the Railsplitters the lead in the top of the third before Drew Beaver’s two-run double down the third-base line gave the lead back to UNCP. Beaver had three RBIs in the game and six total for the regional in his final appearances in a UNCP uniform.
Nick Debo went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh that proved to be the final run for the Braves. The base hit was his final hit as a college player and his line drive was the final out in the game.
“We lost 17 baseball games this year, and I don’t think we mailed in one of them the entire year,” O’Neil said. “We were still trying out there today, down to our last out, and Nick hit a line drive to the short stop to end the game.”
Debo had a team-high seven hits in the three games in the regional.
“I was seeing everything the pitchers threw well,” Debo said. “They kept throwing everything away, especially low and away and I made the adjustment to get under it a little and drive it to left center. We had a really good showing.”
The Railsplitters were led at the plate by Augustine, Clark and Seth Hunt with three hits. Clark had four RBIs. All of which gave more than enough run support for Dominic Morabito’s 8 1/3 innings, where he did not allow a walk and struck out seven batters.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.