College baseball: Thomas notches wins at UNCG; Gardner receives USA South honors

Luke Thomas at UNCG

Several alums from Randolph County schools have produced notable opening stretches in their collegiate baseball careers.

Providence Grove alum Luke Thomas was the winning pitcher in his collegiate debut, throwing 1 2/3 shutout innings when UNC Greensboro defeated Northeastern on Feb. 18 in the second game of the season. The Spartans scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The next day, Thomas took the loss when giving up four late-inning runs to Northeastern.

In the season’s second week, Thomas had two outings against Notre Dame, throwing one hitless inning in the second game of the series and, the next day, three shutout innings with five strikeouts in the series finale.

He added his first collegiate save March 1 with two shutout innings in a 4-1 home victory against Elon.

Then this past weekend, Thomas was the winning pitcher when the Spartans began a three-game sweep of visiting Rutgers. Thomas threw two shutout innings in the 3-2 outcome.

In the series finale against Rutgers, Randleman alum Matt Kemp, a junior, improved to 2-0 this season with a shutout inning in the Spartans’ 10-9, 10-inning victory.

White has mixed outings

Randleman alum Ryan White pitched in the season opener for Western Carolina, making his collegiate debut vs. Akron. His stint came to begin the ninth inning, striking out his first batter.

But an error and a pair of walks preceded Ian Pennington’s game-tying grand slam. The Zips went on to win 14-12.

Last week, White posted 1 2/3 hitless innings at Gardner-Webb and then he logged a shutout inning in a 10-3 victory against visiting Eastern Kentucky.

Gardner honored twice

Former Eastern Randolph baseball player Brody Gardner has had a strong start to his collegiate career with Greensboro College. The freshman outfielder was a two-time USA South Conference Rookie of the Week in February.

Brody Gardner at Greensboro College.

He received the conference’s first rookie honor of the season as a result of a .350 batting average and driving in two runs when the Pride won two of three games against Lynchburg.

The next week, Gardner batted .316 with three doubles, two runs batted in and scored three runs when the Pride went 2-2. He has been in the lead-off spot in the batting order.

On Saturday, Gardner was 3-for-5 with two runs scored in a 7-5 victory at Berry (Ga.) College.

By Bob Sutton