FLORENCE -- The University of North Alabama baseball team clinched at least second place in the Gulf South Conference East Division and locked up a GSC Tournament berth with a double-header sweep of West Alabama, 8-6 and 7-3 at Mike Lane Field.
UNA, now 34-10 overall, improved to 12-4 in GSC play, trailing only 15-2 West Florida in the Division standings. The Lions hold a five-game lead in the loss column over third place Alabama-Huntsville (8-9) with three league games to play. Valdosta State is 7-11, West Georgia 5-12 and West Alabama 4-13.
Chad Boughner (8-1) got the win in the opener, scattering six runs and seven hits over six and 1/3 innings. Casey Jones came on in relief and shutout the Tigers over the final two and 2/3 innings to record his first save in the 8-6 win. Johnny Hornbuckle (7-3) got the win in the nightcap but also needed help from Jones. Hornbuckle came within an out of a complete game before Jones came on and also earned a save by retiring Brian Simone with the abses loaded.
Playing their final homestand of the 2011 season, the Lions got their third GSC series sweep of the year.
UNA fell behind early in the opener as Boughner gave up single runs in the first and third innings. The Lions tied the game in the fourth with a pair of runs. Blake Stroth singled, stole second and scored on a Josh Cyr single. Cyr then scored on a single by Dale Ricketts to make it 2-2. North Alabama added four runs in the fifth. Nick McGregor single and scored on a double by Michael Schmidt. Schmidt advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Stroth. J.P. LaMunyon then hit a towering two-run homer for a 6-2 lead. West Alabama scored twice in the top of the sixth to make it 6-4 but UNA added a run in the bottom of the inning when LaMunyon walked with the bases loaded to force in McGregor. With UNA clinging to a 7-4 lead, West Alabama platted two more run in the seventh. Jones came on in relief of Boughner and allowed a run to score on a ground-out, walked a batter and hit another before finally ending the inning when he got Jeremy Rice to ground-out to second. Ricketts doubled and scored on aCarpenter RBI-single in the bottom of the seventh to make it 8-6. Jones then shutout the Tigers over the final two innings.
In game two, UNA fell behind early when Hornbuckle gave up a two-run homer in the first inning. The Lions jumped on West Alabama for four runs in the bottom of the inning, however. UWA starter Barry Meeks walked the bases loaded and J.P. LaMunyon and Carpenter followed with two-run singles for a 4-2 lead. West Alabama added a run in the third but UNA matched it with one in the fourth when Carpenter singled and later scored on a Michael Schmidt RBI-single. The Lions added two insurance runs in the sixth on a clutch two-out, two-run single by Blake Stroth. Hornbuckle allowed 11 hits, walked four and struckout four. UNA was out-hit 12-9 in the second game.
UNA honored the ten senior members of its 2011 team in a pre-game ceremony. The list of seniors includes Drew Clark, Scott Fleming, Casey Jones, Nick McGregor, Trey Mitchell, Jared Mothershed, Dale Ricketts, Joel Sessions, Blake Stroth and manager Ben Stevenson.
UNA plays a single game at Union University on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.