Lancers sweep North Carolina A&T

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Longwood Lancers won Sunday’s contest 10-5 to sweep their first Big South opponent on the road since 2016. The victory brings Longwood’s record back up to .500 for the first time since the second week of the baseball season.

“They are just starting to believe,” said head coach Chad Oxendine following the team’s second Big South sweep on the road since joining the conference in 2012. “We talked about that earlier in the year. Having a winning mentality versus a losing mentality. Expecting something good to happen instead of something bad. Just continuing to do everything the right way and believing that everything matters. If we continue to do things the right way, the ball is going to roll our way.”

Andrew Melnyk (1-1) started on the mound for Longwood (12-12, 5-1) and picked up his first victory on his first quality start in 2022. Melnyk finished with six innings pitched, and allowed just one run on five hit and struck out six Aggies.

In the top half of the third with one out, Dylan Wilkinson ripped a single through the right side. Hayden Harris and Michael Peterson followed up being hit by a pitch and base on balls respectively, to load the bases. Hunter Gilliam then hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center field that saw Wilkinson cross home to give the Lancers the early 1-0 lead for the third consecutive game.

The Aggies (9-14, 0-3) tied it up in their half of the third when Tyshawn Barrett hit home Anthony Hennings after Hennings singled and stole second.

Drayven Kowalski gave Longwood the lead back in the fourth with a single that went in between third and short and scored Elliot Dix. Dix had walked to start the inning and advanced to third on consecutive ground outs by Michael Dolberry and Jack Schnell.

The Lancers added to their lead in the fifth when Michael Peterson, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to third after consecutive wild pitches, was hit home on an RBI double by Gilliam. Gregory Ryan then reached on a fielder’s choice that saw him wind up on second, and Gilliam on third. Dix then followed up with a soft fly ball that landed in center field and scored Gilliam. A Dolberry walk loaded the bases, and a wild pitch then saw Ryan score to extend Lancers lead to four. A Schnell walk re-loaded the bases, followed by Kowalski who hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Dix from third. Wilkinson then cleared the rest of the bases to open up the game with a single to right that scored Dolberry and Kowalski.

Longwood put another run up through a Ryan single that saw Peterson score after he had stolen second and third after being hit by the pitch. The final Lancers run was a deep shot by Peterson in the top of the eighth that stayed just inside the left field foul pole.

A&T would score four of their own in the bottom of the eighth. Hennings singled to start the inning while Ash and Barrett walked to load the bases. Base hits by Dalton, Brantley and Panton made the score 10-5 going into the ninth.

The Lancers offense as a whole had 27 runs over the weekend on 34 hits. On the day, Longwood finished with 11 hits and 10 runs, while seven Lancers recorded knocks and three had multi-hit days.

“We have to keep getting better,” further explained Oxendine on what to expect from the Lancers in conference play the rest of the year. “Our backend of our bullpen, they know. We have to keep throwing strikes and offensively we have to continue to execute and play offense the right way. Again man, up to this point we’re doing great but we can’t get satisfied. We’re only two weekends in, it’s only going to get tougher/ As you know the Big South is a great conference and we have to continue get better all around.”