(DAHLONEGA) – The University of North Georgia baseball team dropped the final game of a three game series against Georgia Southwestern in an 8-5 loss Saturday afternoon. After already having won the series by taking the first two at Bob Stein Stadium at Lynn Cottrell Park, the Nighthawks could not keep GSW’s powerful offense at bay for a third straight outing.

UNG got on the board in the first inning after sophomore center fielder Andrews Opata reached on a lead off triple on a fly ball that eluded a sliding left fielder in freshman Matthew Manuel.

Hurricane starter Andrew Geiger responded to the lead off triple with three consecutive strikeouts. However, Opata was brought home after a strikeout from sophomore infielder Brady Skipper squirted away from catcher Noah Roberts. As Roberts threw down to first to complete the strikeout, Opata raced home and beat the come back throw.

UNG starter, junior left hander Daniel Courtney, retired the first seven straight batters in the game and did not allow a run through the first four innings.

By that time, the Nighthawks had extended their lead to 4-0 with two runs in the third and a single run in the fourth.

In the third, back-to-back singles from Opata and Skipper were followed by an RBI ground out from junior third baseman Riley Frost and another dropped third strike that brought Skipper home.

With a 4-0 lead and Courtney cruising on the bump, UNg was firmly in control of the contest. Yet, the Hurricanes offense woke up in Courtney’s third time through the order.

The fifth inning began with back-to-back hits for GSW, a double from redshirt juniors Cory Lee and a single from Kalvin Alexander.

Courtney steadied things with his seventh strikeout of the day but three straight RBI singles in the next three batters broke the game open. Courtney was pulled after 4.1 innings in favor of redshirt freshman Nathan Alexander.

The Hurricanes tied the game in the next at bat on a sacrifice bunt from redshirt junior third baseman George Davis.

Neither team scored again until the seventh when Davis came back up and launched his eighth home run of the season, a solo shot to put GSW in front for the first time in the game at 5-4.

Defense was UNG’s pitfall in the eighth, allowing the Hurricanes to add three insurance runs to their lead.

After a lead off single and a walk two batters later, graduate center fielder Jake Blinstrub stepped to the plate.

Blinstrub attempted a sacrifice bunt with two on and one out but as UNG sophomore pitcher Jaret Bales fielded and fired to first, the second baseman Skipper covering the bag couldn’t grab the ball cleanly as it scooted away from him to bring in a run. Skipper was credited with an error.

Two pitches later, Blinstrub took off in an attempt to steal second. Nighthawk junior catcher Bryson Stripling fired a bullet down to second base that beat Blinstrub to the bag. However, sophomore shortstop Jace Bowen bobbled the catch and the ball ran into shallow left field. Alexander came around to score making it 7-4.

Blinstrub was brought home two batters later on an RBI double from junior right fielder Brant Deerman.

Entering the last of the ninth inning, the Nighthawks faced a similar spot to Thursday’s matchup trailing by four runs. On Thursday, the group rallied to score five runs and win the game in walk off fashion on a base hit from Opata.

Going into the ninth, the Hurricanes pitchers had allowed just one base runner and zero hits since the fourth inning.

Redshirt junior right hander Grant Adams got the first two outs of the inning with a ground out and a strikeout. Down to the last out, Stripling laced a double into the left center field gap to keep the game alive. Opata followed that up with his fourth hit of the day, a double down the left field line to bring home Stripling and make it 8-5.

However, Skipper bounced out to short in the game’s final at bat as GSW salvaged a win in the finale.

The Nighthawks will now get ready to welcome another ranked team to Bob Stein Stadium as No. 17 West Florida travels to Dahlonega for a pair of midweek games. The first game begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 2 followed by the non-conference series finale on Wednesday, Apr. 3.