The Runnin' Bulldogs (28-25-1, 12-11 Big South) clinched a berth in next week's Big South Conference Tournament with its first win, and gave itself a chance to move as high as fifth in the final standings with the victory in the nightcap. Gardner-Webb will await Saturday's other league results to see where it is seeded in the postseason event – which will begin on Tuesday, May 21, in Lynchburg, Va.
Gardner-Webb rapped out 23 hits combined in the two games Friday, including six doubles and three home runs, to supplement its usually strong defense and pitching.
Brad Collins finished the day with a combined 4-for-8 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI. Scott Coleman, in only his second day back from an injury that kept him on the shelf for two-plus weeks, finished a combined 6-for-9 with a double and six RBI. Benji Jackson scored seven runs in the two games, and Ryan Hodge finished with three hits and three runs scored.
The 'Dogs jumped out to an 8-2 lead and never looked back in a 12-7 win over the Blue Hose (24-32, 10-14 Big South) in the opener. An RBI double from Brad Collins started things in the first, and Gardner-Webb poured on four runs in the third to take control.
Ryan Hodge led off the third with a single, stole second and stood on third after JJ Nazzaro was plunked and Scott Johnson singled to left. Benji Jackson made the score 2-1 when he was hit by a pitch, Collins pushed the lead to 3-1 with an RBI fielder's choice and Scott Collins roped an RBI single to left for a 4-1 lead. John Harris then capped the rally with his own RBI knock for a 5-1 edge.
After Presbyterian plated a run in the fourth, Gardner-Webb responded again, getting an RBI sacrifice bunt on a squeeze play from Johnson to spark a three-run inning. Coleman came through with a two-run single for an 8-2 lead, driving in Jackson and Hodge.
Presbyterian got a pair of runs in the sixth, but Henry Rundio singled home Coleman in the bottom of the seventh and - after another run by the Blue Hose in the top of the eighth – Collins launched a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to put the 'Dogs up 12-5. Closer Jeff Howell came on with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth and got GWU back into the dugout with its lead safe, setting up Collins' decisive blow.
The Blue Hose added two more runs in the top of the ninth for the final margin, but Howell retired the side for his fifth save of the season.
Andrew Barnett (5-3) threw just 68 pitches in 5.0 solid innings to earn the win, fanning four batters and allowing just one earned run on eight hits.
Coleman (4-for-5, 2B, 3 RBI), Collins (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 5 RBI) and Hodge (2-for-4, SB, 2 runs) paced Gardner-Webb's 13-hit attack offensively, and the GWU defense turned three big double plays.
Beau Dees (5-7) was tagged with the loss, allowing four earned runs on six hits in just 2.1 innings of work.
Presbyterian had 20 hits in the game, but stranded 12 runners. Brad Zebedis (3-for-5, run), Robby Swab (4-for-5, 3 runs), Nathan Chong (4-for-4, 2 runs, RBI), Brandon Paul (2-for-5, run, RBI), Jacob Midkiff (3-for-5, 3 RBI) and Ryan Hagan (2-for-4) each had big days at the plate in Game One.
Gardner-Webb jumped out to a 5-0 lead and was never threatened in a 9-5 nightcap win Friday.
Gardner-Webb added a single run in the fourth on an RBI single from JJ Nazzaro that drove home Ryan Hodge, and Brad Collins belted a two-run home run in the fifth to give the Runnin' Bulldogs a comfortable 8-2 lead.
An RBI groundout from Coleman in the seventh made the score 9-3 and capped the scoring for the home team. The Blue Hose plated two runs in the top of the ninth for the final margin.
Erik Heiligenstadt (5-3) earned his fifth win of the season with 6.0 solid innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just three earned runs. He struck out three and didn't issue a walk.
Gardner-Webb managed 10 hits in the game, getting big nights from Nazzaro (2-for-4, 2B, RBI), Collins (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Coleman (2-for-4, 3 RBI) and Rundio (1-for-4, HR, 3 RBI). Seven different players had hits in the game.
Chandler Knox (5-6) took the loss for the Blue Hose, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings on the mound.
Presbyterian also had 10 hits, with Brandon Paul (2-for-4, run) leading that effort. Nathan Chong and Trey Hayes each had two-run hits for the Blue Hose.