BOILING SPRINGS – Dusty Quattlebaum went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI and Benji Jackson cleared the stadium’s scoreboard with a home run as part of a three-hit day to lead Gardner-Webb to a 14-7 win over Holy Cross.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs (8-3) have won five games in a row and continued to cruise at the plate. The ‘Dogs collected 18 hits in the game, including three doubles and Jackson’s solo home run in the bottom of the first.
Holy Cross (2-5) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, using a double, an error and a two-run home run from Nick Ciardiello to get rolling in the top of the first. Jackson responded quickly for the hosts, however, leading off the bottom half of the inning with a towering shot over the scoreboard in center to seize momentum.
Gardner-Webb added a run in the second on an RBI double from Quattlebaum and went in front with a four-run surge in the bottom of the third inning. Scott Coleman sliced an RBI single up the middle to tie the score, Adam McFarland followed with a single to right to put the ‘Dogs up 5-3 and John Harris made the score 6-3 with an RBI fielder’s choice – before the Crusaders went to the bullpen to halt the rally.
Holy Cross crept back into the game with a run in the fourth, and tied the score with a pair of runs in the fifth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and an RBI double from Jack Laurendeau to make the score 6-5 – and getting a single from reserve Kyle Stearns through the left side to tie the score. The Crusaders would strand a pair of runners, however, and Gardner-Webb would regain control one inning later.
Daniel Merck and Quattlebaum led off the sixth with back-to-back singles and Merck dashed home on a wild pitch with one out to give Gardner-Webb the lead for good. Jake Watts then followed with a two-run double to right, chasing Holy Cross reliever John Colella from the game.
Holy Cross plated a run on two hits in the seventh, but Gardner-Webb would widen the margin in the bottom half – with Jackson lacing a two-run, two-out single through the right side to drive in Quattlebaum and Emilio Pagan. McFarland added an RBI single in the eighth, Merck drove in a run on a ground out and Harris scored the final run on a fielding error for the final margin.
Adam Izokovic pitched around an error in the ninth to preserve the 14-7 lead. Brandon Boling (1-0) got the win in relief, working a perfect sixth inning. Starter Kyle Paeplow worked 4.0 innings on a predetermined pitch count, fanning four in a no decision.
Quattlebaum (4-for-5), Jackson (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI), Watts (3-for-5, 2 RBI), McFarland (2-for-5, 2 RBI) and Merck (3-for-5, RBI) each had big games offensively for Gardner-Webb, as eight different Runnin’ Bulldogs collected at least one hit.
Colella (0-1) took the loss out of the pen for Holy Cross, allowing three runs on three hits with two strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work. Starter Tommy Marra allowed nine hits and six earned runs in 2.2 innings, but saw his offense rally to tie the score. Eric Oxford (2-for-5, RBI) and Andrew Barry (2-for-3) paced the Crusaders' nine-hit attack.
The two teams are scheduled to play again on Wednesday at 4:00 pm at John Henry Moss Stadium / Bill Masters Field.