The win was the third in a row for Gardner-Webb (3-1), and saw the 'Dogs jump out to a 9-2 lead before withstanding a pair of big rallies by The Citadel (1-3).
In a game that saw both teams combine for 12 walks and six hit batters, Howell was lights out on the mound in the late innings. He came on in the eighth with two outs and the tying and go-ahead runs at second and third base - and ended the threat with a high fastball to strike out William Ladd.
Howell fanned the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth and got a ground out to end the game with a runner on board - picking up his first save of the season and completing a weekend that saw the Kings Mountain, N.C., sophomore make three appearances, record six strikeouts and walk none.
Early on, Gardner-Webb appeared to be on its way to another rout, as Jake Watts' belted a three-run home run and Adam McFarland provided a two-run single in the top of the first for a 5-0 lead. GWU added a run in the third to go up 6-0, before The Citadel pushed across a pair of runs in the bottom half of that inning.
The Diamond 'Dogs scored three runs to go up 9-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth, when the host squad took advantage of some control problems. The Citadel collected only two hits in the bottom of the fourth, but took advantage of three walks and a hit batter to score five runs and make a game of it.
Gardner-Webb went up 11-7 with two runs in the fifth, and led 12-8 after the seventh-inning stretch, when The Citadel rallied to tie the game. The host set of Bulldogs started the frame with four consecutive singles to cut the lead to 12-9, then got a two-run double from Justin Mackert to cut the lead to 12-11. Ladd lofted a sacrifice fly to tie the game, before Brett Stackhouse came in from the Gardner-Webb pen to get out of the jam with a strikeout and a fly ball.
McFarland led off the eighth with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch - setting up Coleman's game-winning at bat. The Wilmington, N.C., freshman was called on to pinch hit, and hammered a pitch to right that was caught - but deep enough to score McFarland easily for the go-ahead run.
The Citadel tried to get a rally started with a walk and two-out single in the bottom half of the eighth, before Howell came in to close the door.
Gardner-Webb had 15 hits in the game, with Watts (3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI), John Harris (3-for-5, 2 RBI), Benji Jackson (2-for-5, run), Zeke Blanton (2-for-4, 3 runs, 2 RBI) and McFarland (2-for-4, 2 RBI) leading the charge.
The Citadel managed 14 hits, with Dekerlegand leading that effort by going 3-for-6 with a pair of RBI.
Stackhouse (1-0) got the win with 1.1 innings out of the pen. Drew Mahaffey worked 3.0 innings out of The Citadel bullpen, and allowed just one run, but was saddled with the loss.
Gardner-Webb finished the weekend with the best record at the event, and will open its home schedule on Tuesday, February 22, at 4:00 pm against Appalachian State. The game will be the first for brand new John Henry Moss Stadium in Boiling Springs.