CARROLLTON, Ga. - It didn't start out that way, but a pitcher's duel commenced at Cole Field in Carrollton, Ga. on Wednesday evening, as the West Georgia Wolves and North Georgia Nighthawks battled for 14 innings in non-conference play. The Nighthawks pulled out a three-run 14th, picking up the 6-3 victory.
From the bottom of the fifth when the Wolves tied up the game at 3-3 until the bottom of the 13th inning, the pitchers saw 63 batters and struck out 26 without allowing a run. In total in the contest, the two teams combined for 41 strikeouts, utilizing 12 different pitchers and 27 position players.
The Nighthawks touched up UWG starter Tyler Garner for a pair of runs in the top of the first, then took a 3-0 lead with another run off of Garner in the second. Head coach Skip Fite then went to his bullpen, bringing on senior Wes Bucher in relief. Bucher allowed a hit, then retired the next two batters to end the threat and bring the UWG offense back to the plate.
Redshirt freshman Joe Skinner, picking up his first starting the field at third base on Wednesday, worked the count to his advantage to lead off the bottom of the second, then stroked a solo home run to left to make it 3-1. The homer was the 11th of the season for West Georgia and the first collegiate homer for Skinner. In the third, Cade Marlowe came around to score after a double, coming home on a Brady Barnes single to cut the lead to 3-2.
In the fifth inning, the Wolves tied the game, with Marlowe and Barnes at the middle of the rally again. Marlowe singled with one out in the inning, then Barnes reached on an error that allowed Marlowe to come around to score and tie the game at 3-3.
From the fifth until the 14th, no runners would cross the plate, as the two teams battled from the mound. The most effective pitcher for the Wolves took the loss, as Drew Hayles worked 2.2 innings, striking out six batters and allowing no walks. He gave up a leadoff double in the 14th followed by a deep sacrifice fly that allowed the runner to score from second for the go-ahead run. The Nighthawks scored two more before the final out of the half-inning could be made.
The Wolves pushed back in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out, but a double-play from North Georgia ended the threat and the game. Marlowe was 3-for-3 in the game with two runs scored and was one of five UWG players with multiple hits.
West Georgia will be back in action this weekend, taking on the West Alabama Tigers at Cole Field. The series has been moved back due to a forecast of inclement weather, and the doubleheader will be on Sunday at 1 p.m., followed by a single game on Monday at 2 p.m.