The Runnin’ Bulldogs (29-25-1) advance to play No. 2 Coastal Carolina on Wednesday at 4:30 pm. The Chanticleers beat No. 7 Longwood, 6-1, in Tuesday’s first game.
“There’s nothing like a ‘Vitamin W’ to get you going, but there is still a long way to go,” said Gardner-Webb head coach Rusty Stroupe. “The key for us today was clutch hitting. We had several two-out RBI hits and we haven’t gotten that a lot this season. Pitching a defense were solid again, but the story today was scoring eight runs.”
Fraudin allowed just one hit – a double to lead off the second inning – before settling in to retire 13 of the next 15 men he faced. A leadoff walk in the seventh gave High Point (29-28) its first threat in several innings, and a single and sacrifice bunt put two men in scoring position for the first time all day.
Cody Manzella broke up the shutout with an RBI groundout, but Fraudin recovered to strike out Kyle Brandenburg to end the inning with his team in front 5-1.
Gardner-Webb pushed across three runs in the top of the ninth for an 8-1 edge, and High Point added a run in the bottom half for the final margin.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs struck early against High Point starter Malcolm Clapsaddle, getting singles from Brad Collins and John Harris to begin the second inning. A walk to Henry Rundio loaded the bases, and Scott Johnson laced an RBI single through the left side for a 1-0 lead.
A suicide squeeze bunt from Ryan Hodge drove in a run with one out in the inning, before Clapsaddle could work out of his jam.
Neither team scored again until the sixth, when Collins dented the scoreboard with a solo home run for a 3-0 lead. Hodge started another rally in the top of the seventh, belting a two-out double off the wall in right and – after walks to JJ Nazzaro and Benji Jackson – Scott Coleman ripped a two-run single to left for a 5-0 advantage.
The Panthers got a run back in the seventh, but saw the Runnin’ Bulldogs effectively break the game open in the ninth. Jackson drove home a run with an RBI single and an error allowed Nazzaro to scoot home for a 7-1 lead. Harris wrapped up the Gardner-Webb scoring with an RBI single to center.
High Point got a double from Spencer Angelis with one out in the ninth, and he came around to score after two infield singles. Reliever Conner Scarborough finished the inning and Gardner-Webb advanced.
Fraudin (8-5) had his lowest strikeout total of the season, but worked 7.0 innings, allowed just two hits and one run. Scarborough worked 2.0 effective innings to close out the win, allowing just three hits and one run.
Collins (3-for-5, HR, 2 runs, RBI), Harris (2-for-5, run, RBI) and Rundio (2-for-4) led Gardner-Webb’s 12-hit attack offensively. Collins, who narrowly missed a spot on the All-Big South Conference team at first base, hit his fifth home run and league-leading 27th double of the season.
Clapsaddle (1-5) took the loss, allowing five runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings of work (five strikeouts). Josh Spano (2-for-4) and Manzella (1-for-3, 2 RBI) led the Panthers’ offensive effort on Tuesday.
Gardner-Webb will send junior righty Andrew Barnett (5-2, 3.08 ERA) to the hill on Wednesday to battle Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers will counter with ace southpaw Ben Smith (4-3, 2.13 ERA).
Wednesday’s game will air live on the Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com).