BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Gardner-Webb’s hopes of a series sweep fell short Saturday afternoon, as ineffectiveness on the mound and at the plate resulted in a 12-2 loss to last-place Campbell.
Gardner-Webb (19-28, 8-13 A-Sun) saw starter Wes Cogdill struggle from the outset, missing very few of the Camel bats. Campbell (10-36, 4-17 A-Sun) rapped out three hits and went up for the first time in the series with a run in the second inning, and loaded the bases with one out in the third with a hit batter and two more hard singles.
Cogdill then plunked Brandon Scott to put Campbell up 2-0, and Brandon York followed with a rope to center to put the Camels up 3-0, keep the bases juiced and end Cogdill’s day with one swing.
Reliever Taylor Brooks came on, but uncorked a wild pitch to score Ryan Hamme from third and give Campbell a 4-0 lead. Brooks recovered to fan Robb Meng for the second out, but walked Todd Matthews to re-load the sacks with Camels. A groundball finally ended the burst, but Gardner-Webb found itself in a considerable four-run hole.
Cogdill (1-2) was touched up for six hits and four earned runs and hit two batters in 2.1 innings of a lackluster start for the Bulldogs.
As the Camels surged ahead, their starting pitcher, righty Blake Herring, mowed through Gardner-Webb’s lineup card. The senior fanned five batters through the first four innings and allowed just one base runner (hit batsman) – using an effective changeup to keep GWU badly off balance.
Brooks got himself into trouble again in the fourth, getting behind in the count twice and allowing sharp singles to Carlton Floyd and Daniel Smith to put a pair on board with one out. Of the first 22 pitches the sophomore righty threw, just 11 were across the plate or in play. Hamme followed with the Camels’ third single in a row to drive in Floyd for a 5-0 lead, and Brandon Scott reached on a fielder’s choice to drive in Smith for a 6-0 Campbell lead. Scott swiped second and third base easily, but Brandon York struck out with a wild swing to end the threat.
Nate MacDonald broke up the no-hitter with a single to lead off the fourth, but Herring erased that runner with a 4-6-3 double play from the bat of Jay McConnell.
Campbell got to Brooks in the fifth as well, rapping out three consecutive one-out singles to load the bases. Floyd followed with a sacrifice fly to push the Camels’ lead to 7-0, and Smith followed with a single off of Brooks’ glove to make the score 8-0. Brooks then walked Hamme to load the bases for the second time in the inning, bringing southpaw relief man Webster Beal out of the bullpen. Beal got a pop fly to leave the bags full, but Gardner-Webb would not find any comfort at the plate in its hopes of catching up.
Justin Loyd led off the sixth with a single up the middle, and Josh Drewery poked a two-out single through the right side to put multiple runners on board for GWU for the first time all day. Daniel Cooke then hammered a changeup into the gap in right center to drive in both – and cut the Camels’ lead to 8-2. Herring got Jeremiah Lokken out on a swinging bunt to end the frame still comfortably in front.
Campbell got a run back in the sixth to go up 9-2, and blew the game open with three more runs in the seventh – getting a two-run bomb from Scott for the final 12-2 margin.
Herring (3-7) hurled a complete-game five hitter for the win, fanning eight Bulldogs and controlling the game from start to finish. Smith (3-for-4) and York (3-for-4) paced an 18-hit onslaught for the Camels’ offense, with Scott (2-for-4, HR) adding four RBI.
Cooke (1-for-3, 2B, RBI) paced five different Bulldogs who collected one hit. Three of the four Bulldog pitchers allowed four earned runs each. Matt Tafazolli worked a scoreless eighth for Gardner-Webb.
GWU will play at Davidson on Tuesday, May 1, at 6 pm ET.