BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb led 7-5 after six innings Saturday, and finished off the postponed bout with a resounding 10-5 and a series victory Sunday afternoon.
Gardner-Webb took its first series win over Stetson with the victory, and dominated the Hatters - preseason A-Sun favorites - for much of the weekend.
Gardner-Webb went up 1-0 in the first inning of the game Saturday, as Jeremiah Lokken followed a Jamall Kinard single with a sharp RBI double off the wall in center. The ‘Dogs pushed that lead to 3-0 in the third, getting a solo bomb to left center from Kinard – and an RBI single from Daniel Cooke to put the Hatters in a hole for the second straight day.
Stetson would respond quickly, however, rallying with two outs in the top of the fourth to tie the game. A walk, a single by Jacob deGrom got GWU starting pitcher Webster Beal into trouble – and after throwing two more balls to nine-hole hitter Erich Holland – saw Holland belt a three-run home run to left center to tie the score.
The score swung back into Gardner-Webb’s favor in the bottom of the fourth, with the ‘Dogs putting together a two-out rally via the long ball. O.J. McFarland sliced a single through the box – and Tyler Johnson lined a two-run shot over the fence in left to put the hosts in front 5-3.
With the humidity rising, the balls kept jumping out of Varsity Field, and Stetson cut the lead to 5-4 with a Justin Bass solo home run to left with two outs in the fifth. Beal got out of the inning without any further damage – and Cooke pushed the Bulldogs’ lead back to two runs, 6-4, with a two-out single up the middle.
Gardner-Webb reliever Adam Bullard came on to pitch the sixth, and got himself in trouble quickly with a leadoff walk and a wild pitch that allowed Robert Crews to trot into second easily. Crews eventually scored on a throwing error, but Bullard would work out of the jam still in front by a run.
Jamall Kinard drove in McFarland with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth for the 7-5 lead – and officials delayed the game after lightning just prior to the start of the seventh.
When action resumed Sunday, Jon Ban took the hill in relief of Adam Bullard, and mowed down Stetson for 3.0 innings - fanning four batters - and saw his GWU teammates pile on three more runs before the end of the game.
Ban picked up his second save in as many appearances on the weekend, and starter Webster Beal (2-1) picked up the win - despite the last pitching coming more than 24 hours after the first. Kinard paced Gardner-Webb's offense by going 4-for-5 at the plate with a home run, two singles and a triple. Cooke and Johnson also had a pair of hits for the 'Dogs.
Attempting to sweep the three-game series from Stetson, Gardner-Webb held a 4-2 lead with two outs in the finale. Unfortunately, a two-run home run by Jeremy Cruz tied the game at 4-4 in the ninth - and the visiting Hatters avoided the brooms by plating two more in the top of the 10th - and surviving for a 6-5 victory.
Gardner-Webb (8-9, 2-7 A-Sun) did have the go ahead run in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, but Stetson (8-9, 2-4 A-Sun) saw closer Robbe Elsemiller get a called strikeout to end the game.
Gardner-Webb fell behind 2-0 in the third, as Stetson plated one earned, and one unearned run off of Ban - who made the start after two relief appearances in the series. Josh Drewery (3-for-4) knotted the game shortly after, however, belting a fastball over the fence in left for a two-run bomb that tied the game. GWU then plated two more runs in the fifth to take its 4-2 lead - which would stand until the ninth.
Devin Campbell (0-1) took the loss in relief for GWU. Elsemiller (1-0) was credited with the win out of the pen for Stetson.
Gardner-Webb will host Ivy League member Yale on Monday at 3 pm ET.