ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Playing in their first home games of the season at Greenwood Field, the UNC Asheville baseball team split a doubleheader with Canisius College, falling 4-2 in game one before coming from behind in game two to earn a 6-4 victory on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m pleased with our comeback in the second game,” said UNC Asheville skipper Tom Smith. “We got two big homers from Ian Graham and Robert McIntosh, each one put us ahead. It was good to see some power from our lineup.”
The homers by Graham and McIntosh were the first of the season for both players.
With the split Asheville moves to 2-3 on the season, while Canisius goes to 3-2. The Golden Griffins’ Garrett Cortright earned the victory in game one, allowing two runs (one earned) in 6.2 innings. Nick Schavone earned the game-two victory in relief, retiring four of the five batters he faced to improve to 1-0 on the year.
“The key in the second game was our bullpen,” added Smith. “Schavone faced a couple of really good left-handed bats and then (Dillon) Tabar was effective in closing out the game for us.”
It was the first save of the season for Tabar.
Bulldog starter Dean Roland (0-2) was credited with the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits with six strikeouts in seven innings of work. Canisius hurler Rohn Pierce (1-1) took the loss in game two, giving up six runs (five earned) in five innings.
For the day shortstop Eli Miller was 3-for-4 at the plate, with a double and a run scored. Fellow middle infielder Kyle Towles went 4-for-6 with three runs scored and a stolen base, while Graham and McIntosh each posted two runs batted in apiece for the Blue & White.
Mike Krische, Jesse Kelso, Chris Gruarin and Shane Zimmer all collected two hits each on the day for Canisius, with Kelso accounting for two runs scored.
Game one saw the Golden Griffins take an early 1-0 lead, when Zimmer tripled down the rightfield line to drive in a run in the top of the first. Canisius then added two more runs in the fourth, scoring on a Brett Siddall ground out and a Christian Segar single to right, giving the Griffins a 3-0 lead.
Canisius added another run in the fifth, plating a runner on a Gruarin single to go up 4-0.
Asheville answered in the bottom of the fifth, as centerfielder Phillip Treadway scored on a bases loaded double-play to put the Bulldogs on the board.
The Bulldogs added one more run in the seventh, but could not complete the comeback, falling by the final score of 4-2.
In game two Canisius plated two runs in the first, scoring on a throwing error and a sacrifice fly to center by Kelso. The Bulldogs would answer in the bottom half of the frame when rightfielder Todd Joyner singled to left to plate McIntosh and cut the lead in half.
After adding a run in the top of the second, Canisius took a 3-1 lead into the third.
In that third inning the Bulldogs got their first two batters on base, setting up at Tommy Houmard sacrifice fly to center. With one on and two out, Graham belted a two-run jack to left field to give the Blue & White a 4-3 advantage.
A sacrifice fly by Anthony Massicci of Canisius in the fourth tied the game at four runs apiece, only to see Asheville’s McIntosh launch a two-run bomb to left to give the Bulldogs a 6-4 lead.
That would be the final as Canisius was unable to plate a runner over the final innings.
The two teams will be back in action tomorrow at Greenwood Field, playing another doubleheader beginning at noon. Each game is scheduled for seven innings due to time constraints.