TEAM BLACK ON BRINK OF SWEEP

Greensboro, NC (10/06/02) - Team Black rode Brad Franklin and RJ Marks' timely hitting to a 2-0 lead in the Guilford College World Series under clear blue skies at McBane Field on Sunday.  Franklin, three-for-three on the day, drove home AJ McCauley with a bases-loaded single for the first run of the game in the visitors' third inning.  Marks followed with a bases-clearing double that provided all the margin starter and winner Dave Shaffer and freshman lefty Matt Spoerlein needed as the Black pushed Team Cardinal to the edge of extinction.

Cardinal starter Mike Goettler was effective throughout, with the exception of the two-batter glitch in the third.  He struck out a series high five batters, but allowed six bases on balls to the patient Black hitters.

"I thought I had pretty good stuff," Goettler said.  "Comstock might have missed one breaking ball in the fourth, but overall, the umpiring was outstanding.  I just made a couple of mistakes in the 3rd." 

In truth, Franklin and Marks' heroics need not have occurred as they did.  With one out and runners at first and second in the frame, Goettler induced Jeff Roberts into a weak ground ball, but the Cardinal infield failed to get an out.  Franklin was the next hitter, and the rest is history. 

Said Marks of his double, "I could see Mike was a little unnerved by the error and Brad's base hit.  I tried to be patient and get a good pitch to hit.  Fortunately, since I'm never patient, I got a good pitch early and it found the gap."

Shaffer and Spoerlein were effective if not dominant.  Team Cardinal left eight runners on base in the seven-inning affair, and would have had even more scoring opportunities, save for a few base-running blunders.  In the home first, Andrew Duffy led off with a base hit, only to be erased on a stolen base attempt on an 0-2 pitch out. 

"I figured they knew that I knew it was a perfect pitchout count and wouldn't be running,"  Duffy said.  "Turns out they weren't smart enough to throw a breaking ball in the dirt and let me waltz into second base."

Cardinal chipped away at the Team Black lead with run-scoring hits from Josh Miller and Ben Bizier in the third and fourth innings respectively.  In the fifth inning Cardinal made the ill-fated move of inserting fleet-footed and heavy hitting sophomore Jeff Ebert into the lineup.  Ebert replaced senior designated hitter Matt Webb, who had spent most of the night in Knoxville, TN, at field-goal kicker tryouts for the Arkansas Razorbacks.  His shouts of "Soooooooey" turned to sighs of "Zzzzzzzzzzz" after the long ride home, and he pulled himself in favor of Ebert.  Ebert wasted no time in making his presence felt.  After drawing a one-out walk to load the bases, he was promptly picked off by the crafty Spoerlein, who had relieved Shaffer to start the inning. 

"I kept waiting for the guy, or the guy that looks like the guy, to holler 'back',"  Ebert said.  "Now I remember they are on the other team."

Shortstop Zach Morgan ended the rally with a two out pop up to first.

After Goettler and Spoerlein both stranded runners in the sixth, Ebert got another chance in the seventh.   With Team Cardinal trailing by two, Brian Slate led off with a single to right center.  After Josh Miller and Rob Bittner both flew out, it was Ebert's chance to atone, and he hammered a Spoerlein offering into the gap in left-center where, while trying to find a rock to crawl under, Marks played it into a two-base error that scored Slate and brought Cardinal to within a run.  Turns out the mistake on the play was Slate's.  Had he stopped at third, what transpired next would not have happened. 

Pinch-hitter Nathan Gavin ran the count to three and two against Spoerlein, while Ebert worked his first base secondary, cross-over technique from the bag at second.  Then, for, as yet, unexplained reasons, Ebert attempted a mind switch stolen base of third.  Spoerlein calmly stepped off and threw to Rick Parks for the tag play at third and the game ended 4 - 3.  "I knew (on-deck hitter) Brad (Schlesinger) was going to get a hit, so I wanted to get to third so I could score.  I probably would score from second on a hit, but why take the risk of being thrown out at the plate," was Ebert's explanation.

Team Cardinal looks to regroup on the travel day and come back with Ciahnan Miller in Tuesday's third game.  Team Black had not announced a starter at press time, but the guy (Andrew Jackson) and the guy that looks like the guy (Scott Chewning) are both well rested.  First pitch is slated for 2:45 and temperatures are expected to plummet into the mid-70's by game time.