Solid pitching, timely hitting lift No. 3 Grizzlies past top-ranked Faulkner

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. ( – No. 3 Georgia Gwinnett rode the solid performance by starting pitcher Nikolay Uherek and got a couple of timely RBI hits in the sixth inning en route to a 3-1 victory over top-ranked Faulkner here Tuesday night at the Grizzly Baseball Complex.
Uherek struck out 12 Eagles in seven innings of work, then handed the ball to relievers Will Solomon and Davis Adkins to close the door. Marcus McCorkle and Brady Shoppe broke open a 1-1 tie with back-to-back run-scoring hits that proved to be the difference. Uherek improved to 6-0 on the season as the Grizzlies improved to 30-1 on the season. Reliever Phillip Anderson (3-2) took the loss for the Eagles (26-5), who saw their 17-game winning streak come to an end.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third when the Grizzlies got to Faulkner starter Marco Blanchard. With two outs, Trey Haygood doubled off the left-field wall and Jereid Woods then followed with a looping single to left to give Georgia Gwinnett a 1-0 lead.
The Grizzlies threatened again in the fourth, putting runners at second and third with one out. Blanchard battled back, however, striking out McCorkle and Shoppe to end the inning.
Uherek was effective through the midway point, striking out nine Eagles in the first five innings and allowing just four singles, two of which came from Dario Polanco. The Eagles tied it in the sixth, though, with David Palenzuela doubling to left with one out and moving to third when Grizzly left-fielder Michael Hodorowski misplayed the batted ball. Mario Amaral then singled him in, deadlocking the game at 1 apiece.
Georgia Gwinnett answered back in the decisive bottom of the sixth. Faulkner reliever Phillip Anderson, after hitting a batter and walking another with one out, allowed an opposite-field double by McCorkle that put the Grizzlies on top 2-1. Shoppe followed with an RBI single to push the lead to 3-1 through six innings.
Uherek was pulled after seven innings, allowing just the one run and no walks in 110 pitches. Solomon, a regular starter, took over in the eighth in his first relief appearance of the season. After retiring the first two Eagles he faced, Solomon walked the next two batters and was replaced by Adkins. The lanky right-hander coaxed Nick Cain into flying out to centerfield to end the threat, and then tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save of the season.
Faulkner hosts Bethel (Tenn.) in a Southern States Athletic Conference three-game series this weekend. Friday’s Game 1 is set for a 6 p.m. first pitch at Harrison Field.