BOILING SPRINGS – Justin Loyd's solo home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh lifted Gardner-Webb to a 6-5 win in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader with Rider, giving the ‘Dogs their fourth win in a row.
The Diamond ‘Dogs (10-6) used a late flurry to beat Rider 11-4 in the series’ opener.
Gardner-Webb fell behind early in the second game, as Rider (3-7) plated a run in the top of the first when standout James Hayes was hit by a pitch, stole second base and moved to third on a throwing error. Hayes scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly, before GWU starter Ben Campbell could work out of the inning.
Brock Miller led off with a triple to right in the bottom of the first, and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, 1-1. GWU would go on top 2-1 in the third on another wild pitch that allowed Tyler Johnson to trot home standing up. Johnson had doubled to lead off the frame.
Redshirt freshman hurler Aaron Haynes kept Rider off the board in the third and fourth innings, but Broncs’ first baseman Sean Olson followed back-to-back hits in the fifth with a line drive, three-run home run to left that gave Rider what appeared to be a comfortable 5-2 edge.
Rider southpaw Patrick Devlin had been nearly flawless throughout the game, striking out four, scattering four hits and allowing just two runs through the first five innings.
Devlin had two quick outs and a runner aboard in the sixth when GWU caught its break. Designated hitter Kurt Fulginiti laced a first-pitch fastball over the fence in left, a line-drive, two-run home run that energized the Diamond ‘Dogs and caused Rider to go to its closer – two-way standout Davis.
Davis, who had recorded 27 saves in just over two collegiate seasons, came in from right field to pitch, but allowed a single up the middle to Tyler Johnson, a bloop single to right by Matt Rizzuto to put runners at the corners – and a hard single to right by Miller to tie the game, 5-5. Davis recovered, however, and got a ground ball with runners on second and third to get out of the jam still tied.
True freshman Adam Izokovic entered to pitch for Gardner-Webb, and retired the top of Rider’s batting lineup in order – giving GWU a chance at the win in the bottom half.
After Davis recorded the inning’s first out, Loyd stepped to the plate with the bases empty. He barreled a first-pitch fastball well out of the yard in left to end the game, his second long ball of the year.
Izokovic (1-1) got the win, as GWU staffed the seven-inning game with Campbell (2.0 innings pitched) and Haynes (4.0 innings pitched).
Gardner-Webb collected 10 hits, with Miller (3-for-4, 3B, run, RBI) and Johnson (2-for-3, 2B, 2 runs) leading the way. Loyd (1-for-4, HR, RBI), Fulginiti (1-for-2, HR, 2 RBI), Ahearn (1-for-4), Spake (1-for-2, run) and Rizzuto (1-for-1) also had hits in the game.
Davis (0-1) took the loss, allowing four hits and two runs in 0.2 innings of work. Rider had seven hits, with A.J. Albee (2-for-3, 2B, RBI) and Eric Woodrow (2-for-2, RBI) pacing that effort.
GAME ONE: GWU 11, Rider 4
Gardner-Webb broke open a tight game with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, completing a late-game spurt that gave the ‘Dogs an 11-4 win over Rider.
Rider broke on top early, as James Davis led off the game with a solo home run. Steve Gallela followed with a two-run blast in the same inning to put the visitors up 3-0 – and Mason Heyne belted a solo shot in the top of the third to give Rider a commanding 4-0 lead.
Gardner-Webb would answer, however, and the Bulldogs’ offense would catch fire from the third inning until game’s end.
Tyler Johnson and Brock Miller led off the frame with singles, with Miller’s safety a hustle play down the line to beat a throw from third. A pickoff play gave Rider its first out, but Jon Ahearn reached on a wild pitch after a strikeout, and Daniel Cooke coaxed a walk to load the bases – putting three very fast men aboard with one out.
Loyd delivered his first big blow of the day, blistering a first-pitch fastball into left to drive in all three runners and trim Rider’s lead to 4-3. The momentum-boosting hit carried over to GWU starter Michael Lewis, who overcame three early home runs to settle in and retire the Broncs in order in the fourth.
A three-run rally for Gardner-Webb in the bottom of the fourth gave the ‘Dogs the lead for good. O.J. McFarland tied the game with a solo home run to left center with two outs, Tyler Johnson singled up the middle and Brock Miller put a pair in scoring position with a ricochet double that put Johnson on third. A bunt single by Ahearn drove in Johnson for a 5-4 lead and Daniel Cooke drove in Miller with a single for a 6-4 advantage.
A pair of two out hits by Rider in the fifth brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but reliever Kyle Paeplow came in to close the door with a strikeout. GWU added four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth – with RBI singles from Cooke, Loyd and Spake the key blows.
Paeplow completed his save opportunity by striking out the final two batters in a spotless seventh inning.
Gardner-Web rapped out 15 hits in the game, with Miller (3-for-4, 2 runs), Ahearn (2-for-4, 2 runs), Cooke (2-for-3, 2 runs), Loyd (2-for-3, 2B, 4 RBI), Spake (2-for-4, RBI) and Johnson (2-for-4, run) accounting for 13 of those 15 safeties. McFarland (1-for-3, HR, RBI) and Rizzuto (1-for-3, 2 RBI) had the other hits for the ‘Dogs.
Lewis (1-0) got a hard-earned win, working 5.2 innings, scattering nine hits and allowing four runs – but none after the third frame (two strikeouts).
Rider ace Jimmer Kennedy (1-1) was saddled with the loss, allowing six hits and six runs in 3.2 innings of work (one strikeout). Nate Eppley allowed three earned runs in 2.1 innings of work to close out the game.
Rider had nine hits, with Galella (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI) and John Ralston (2-for-3) leading the way.
The two teams will wrap up the three-game series on Wednesday at 3 pm ET on Masters Field.