After a dark opening to a season with high expectations, the UNCW baseball team came up Golden this weekend.
That’s Golden as in senior right fielder Casey Golden, who was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week for leading the Seahawks to an encouraging nonconference sweep of Virginia Commonwealth.
Golden homered in all three games while going 7 for 14 with a double, five runs scored and seven RBI as his team beat the Rams 5-4 on Friday, 10-4 on Saturday and 10-1 on Sunday. Golden has now hit in eight straight games and has homered in his last four, all UNCW wins that have helped it inch closer to the .500 mark at 8-9 on the season.
First baseman Mason Berne also had a hot bat Friday with three hits in a game that saw the Seahawks rally from a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the seventh. Brian Mims and Clark Cota also homered in the Saturday game while Kennard McDowell had three hits and a homer to key their team’s rout in the series finale.
Like UNCW, NC State also stumbled out of the gate after starting the season with high expectations. And like the Seahawks, the Wolfpack (12-9, 3-3 ACC) continued the recovery by taking two of three from Miami for its first ACC series victory of the year.
State’s weekend began with a 5-3 victory on Friday in which first baseman Shane Shepard drove home the go-ahead runs with a base loaded double to left center in the bottom of the eighth.
On Saturday, Andy Cosgrove led the way with three hits and two runs as the Wolfpack (12-9, 3-3 ACC) overcame a 90-minute rain delay for a 5-2 triumph. Austin Staley, who picked up the win in the series opener, got the save on Saturday. Miami rallied to win 7-5 on Sunday despite a two-run homer from shortstop Joe Dunand.
The news wasn’t as good for East Carolina, which saw its early season momentum come to a screeching halt with a home sweep at the hands of Mercer. Freshman first baseman Spencer Brickhouse provided one of the few highlights of the weekend for the Pirates (13-7) with his team-leading fifth and sixth homers of the season.
ECU lost the first game of a Friday doubleheader 10-7 before dropping the nightcap 7-5. It then dropped the Sunday finale 8-2 after falling behind 5-0 in the opening inning.
North Carolina also won its ACC series by going to Atlanta and beating Georgia Tech 6-5 on Friday behind a career-high 14 strikeouts by ace J.B Bukauskas and a ninth inning homer from Logan Warmoth, and a 7-4 win on Sunday behind a nine-strikeout relief outing by Brett Daniels and a pair of RBI from DH Ashton McGee.
The Tar Heels (15-5, 4-2) nearly earned a sweep, but despite a strong seven-inning outing from freshman Luca Dalatri they dropped a 4-2 decision in 12 innings.
Elsewhere around the state in college baseball this weekend, Wake Forest took won two of three from Duke in a battle of Big Four rivals.
The Deacons (15-6, 4-2) got a career-high 12 strikeouts from ace Parker Dunshee and a pair of homers from Johnny Aiello for an 8-4 win on Friday. Duke (11-11, 3-3) answered back with a 7-4 win Saturday as Jack Labosky drove in three runs and pitched the ninth inning to close out the game while Stuart Fairchild had a three-run homer in a losing effort.
Connor Johnstone allowed just one run in seven innings pitched and Jonathan Pryor had three hits and three RBI as Wake won the rubber game on Sunday 11-2.
Charlotte (13-7, 2-1 Conference USA) opened up its league schedule by sandwiching a 4-0 win Friday and an 8-7 victory on Sunday around a 5-4 loss at Florida International. Ace Colton Laws was the star of the opening game by throwing seven shutout innings and increasing his scoreless streak to 27⅓. Third baseman Jackson Mims had three hits and catcher Zach Smith hit a homer to key the series clincher on Sunday.
Finally, Appalachian State (9-11, 1-2 Sun Belt) lost its conference opening series at 14th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette, wasting a complete game effort from Travis Hulpen in a 3-0 loss on Friday and dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker on Sunday in a game on which the winning run got on base when an apparent diving catch in the outfield was ruled a trap.
The Mountaineers salvaged the middle game of the weekend with a 12-4 win in which they got home runs from shortstop Jason Curtis, second baseman Matt Vernon, first baseman Conner Leonard and left fielder Tyler Stroup.