Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Gwinnett College baseball player Phillip Bates. a junior transfer who went to Central Gwinnett, poses for a portrait on GGC's newly constructed baseball field.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Central Gwinnett grad Phillip Bates’ big day led Georgia Gwinnett College’s baseball team to another victory Tuesday night.
The senior went 3-for-5 with a solo home run to lead a 14-hit attack as the Grizzlies upset NAIA preseason No. 10 Cumberland (Tenn.) 8-5 at the Grizzly Baseball Complex.
Four different Grizzlies had a multi-hit night as GGC (8-3) built a five-run lead and pieced together a strong effort on the mound from six different pitchers.
Cumberland, an 11-time NAIA World Series participant, fell to 5-3 on the season.
Robbie Payne also had three hits while Bates and Sloan Strickland led GGC with two runs apiece.
“We had a great team win tonight,” GGC head coach Brad Stromdahl said. “Our pitching staff had a really nice performance and we got some very timely hits. We’re getting closer to the place we’d like to be day in and day out on a consistent basis.”
Ty Abbott’s two-out RBI single in the first inning gave GGC an early 1-0 lead. Pat Long and Antonio Allen followed with bases-loaded walks to make it a 3-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs used a two-out double in the second to cut the deficit to 3-1, but the Grizzlies quickly added to their lead.
Bates led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left, his first of the season. Payne put a double off the top of the wall in right field to chase CU starter Kevin T. Greene (0-1). An error at second base brought in GGC’s fifth run and an infield hit by Allen made it 6-1.
Brandon MacKinnon (1-0) tossed 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief after GGC starter Tyler Carpenter struck out three and allowed one run in two innings. Ryan Turner got out of a first-and-third jam to end the Bulldogs’ threat in the sixth inning.
The Bulldogs pushed across two runs in the seventh, but the Grizzly offense bounced back for two more runs of its own, capitalizing on a pair of Cumberland errors to make it 8-3.
Single CU runs in the eighth and ninth innings cut into GGC’s lead, but Zeke McGranahan finished off the ninth to preserve the win.
The victory is GGC’s second over a ranked opponent this year and matched the program’s highest-ranked upset after last year’s defeat of defending champion Tennessee Wesleyan.
It also was the Grizzlies’ fifth game in five days.
Off today and Thursday, Stromdahl’s squad begins a three-game series on Friday against Voorhees (S.C.) at 7 p.m. in Lawrenceville.