BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Gardner-Webb pitchers issued 11 walks, and the 'Dogs saw an early lead go to waste Wednesday afternoon, as Davidson plated three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth to win, 9-3.
The loss was the first at home for GWU (5-7). The Diamond ‘Dog pitching staff had a tough day finding the plate, combining for 11 walks and two wild pitches in 9.0 innings of work. Five of those walks led directly to runs for Davidson (6-0).
Gardner-Webb went on top early, with Matt Rizzuto tripling with one out in the first and scoring on an RBI groundout by Josh Drewery. Davidson starter Mac Read worked out of that jam, but gave up a first pitch double to Nate MacDonald off the wall in deep center to start the second. After MacDonald moved to third on a deep fly ball, Ty Boyles launched another ball into center for a sacrifice fly – giving GWU a 2-0 edge.
Davidson tied the score, 2-2, with single runs in the fourth and fifth, but Daniel Cooke delivered an RBI hit through the left side in the bottom of the fifth to give Gardner-Webb a 3-2 edge.
A sacrifice fly by Zach Kayne tied the game, 3-3, in the sixth – and Davidson broke the game open in the top of the seventh. Reliever Webster Beal walked Alden Crissey, Rob Wilson roped a double into left and Gregory Zage ripped an RBI single through the hole to give Davidson a 4-3 lead. Blake Osborn then roped a single into left center to drive in Wilson for a 5-3 edge – chasing Beal from the game.
With runners at the corners and no outs, Tim Thomas came on to stop the bleeding, getting a pair of strikeouts after allowing a sacrifice fly that pushed Davidson’s lead to 6-3. Thomas would lose his control in the eighth, however, walking the first three batters of the inning to load the bases. Wilson delivered a sacrifice fly to push Davidson’s lead to 7-3, and Osborn poked a seeing-eye infield single to push the Wildcats’ lead to 8-3 – before reliever Matt Tafazzoli could get out of the inning.
Gardner-Webb loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but two infield pop ups ruined any chance of catching up.
Davidson’s Matt Webb added a solo home run with two outs in the ninth for the final margin. The Wildcats collected eight of their 10 hits after the fifth inning.
Reliever Thomas Middour (1-0) pitched an inning of perfect relief, with three strikeouts, to get the win for the Wildcats. Beal allowed five hits and four runs in 1.2 innings of mound work to take the loss in relief.
Bulldog starter Taylor Brooks allowed two runs, one earned, in 4.1 innings of work, but walked seven batters.
Gardner-Webb’s bats struggled much of the day after gaining the early advantage, as six Bulldogs collected one hit each. Davidson was paced by Webb (2-for-4), Wilson (2-for-2), Zage (2-for-5), Osborn (2-for-4) and Chris FitzPatrick (2-for-4).
GWU remains at home for its next series, battling OVC member Murray State this weekend. The opener is Saturday at Noon ET on Varsity Field.