Gardner-Webb (14-4-1) jumped out to an early 7-1 lead Wednesday, but saw the Catamounts (8-10-1) plate two in the ninth to tie the game. Western Carolina had the winning run on second base and two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning when the game was called for good - reverting all stats back to the end of the ninth.
The tie game is believed to be the first for Gardner-Webb in the NCAA era (Division II and Division I), which began for the Runnin' Bulldogs in 1994.
The Runnin' Bulldogs went up 2-0 in the top of the first on an RBI groundout from Dusty Quattlebaum and an RBI single from Scott Coleman. The Catamounts trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom half, but Gardner-Webb pushed four runs across in the top of the third, and another in the fourth to take command of the game.
Stephen Notaro doubled to lead off the fourth for WCU and scored on a single from Cameron Dullnig to make the score 7-2 before Gardner-Webb starter Erik Heiligenstadt could work free of the jam. Western Carolina added two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to make the score 7-6 - before the skies opened and led to a rain and lightning delay of nearly two hours.
Western Carolina threatened to rally in the eighth, loading the bases without a hit with one out. But Adam Izokovic coaxed a pop fly to shortstop and struck out Notaro to end the inning still in front by a run.
A squeeze bunt RBI by Quattlebaum in the top of the ninth gave Gardner-Webb an 8-6 lead, but the lead would vanish in the ninth.
A walk, fielding error and hit batter loaded the bases with no outs, and Matt Johns delivered a two-run single to tie the score with one out in the inning. Izokovic got out of the inning still tied, but the Catamounts had seized momentum.
Gardner-Webb went quietly in the top of the 10th, and Western Carolina's Tyler White was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom half of the inning. White moved into scoring position on a ground out, and the Catamounts had the runner they needed just two bases away from home. Izokovic recovered to coax a foul ball to third base for the second out, then rain came into play again - delaying and eventually ending the game.
Gardner-Webb had 13 hits in the game, paced by Scott Coleman (3-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI) and Jake Watts (3-for-5, RBI). Quattlebaum (1-for-4, 3 RBI) drove in three runs for the 'Dogs and leadoff hitter Matt Sapp (2-for-3, SB, 2 runs) set the table well.
Johns paced Western Carolina's 10-hit offense, going 4-for-4 with two key RBI in the ninth.
Heiligenstadt scattered seven hits and four runs (three walks) in 4.1 innings of work. The 'Dogs used six pitchers in the game. Western Carolina's Mike Gaffigan was roughed up in the start for the Catamounts, allowing six hits and six earned runs in 2.0 innings of work. WCU used five pitchers Wednesday night.
Gardner-Webb will turn its attention back to Big South Conference play, beginning a three-game series with High Point on Friday night at 6:00 pm at John Henry Moss Stadium / Bill Masters Field.