The Runnin' Bulldogs (1-0) got two hits each from Scott Johnson (2-for-2, 3 RBI), Benji Jackson (2-for-3, 2 runs, RBI), Henry Rundio (2-for-4, RBI), Brad Collins (2-for-5, run), Scott Coleman (2-for-4) and Ryan Hodge (2-for-5, HR, 2 runs, RBI) to spark a strong showing at the plate.
Matt Fraudin (1-0) picked up the win, striking out seven in the first 3.1 innings and finishing his day with 5.0 innings pitched and three runs allowed. Erik Heiligenstadt was very sharp out of the bullpen, fanning four in 3.0 scoreless innings.
Jeff Howell struck out one to retire the Flyers in order in the ninth, as Gardner-Webb's staff fanned 12 batters in the game.
Dayton (0-1) took a lead with two outs in the top of the first, with Mark Podlas belting a change up over the fence in right for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead.
Hodge answered with one out in the bottom of the first, lining a solo home run of his own to right for a tie score. Johnson put the 'Dogs on top in the second with a sacrifice fly to drive in Jackson – who led off with a double. Rundio then singled and stole second, and scored on an RBI knock from JJ Nazzaro for a 3-1 Gardner-Webb advantage.
The Runnin' Bulldogs added some cushion in the third, scoring three more runs for a 6-1 lead. Jackson roped an RBI single, Johnson had another sacrifice fly and Rundio singled home a run before Dayton starter Parker Schrage could get out of the jam.
The Flyers got a two-run bomb off the scoreboard in right center from Spencer Rohr with one out in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 6-3, but Fraudin got out of the inning without further damage and Gardner-Webb tacked on another run when Hodge double off the top of the fence in right and came around to score on a wild pitch for a 7-3 cushion.
Heiligenstadt came on in the sixth and retired the first six batters he faced – the final four on strikeouts. The Forest, Va., sophomore struck out the side in the seventh.
Johnson provided the final run for Gardner-Webb with a sharp RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to score pinch runner Taylor Fisher for the final margin.
Schrage (0-1) took the mound loss for Dayton, allowing 10 hits and six runs in 3.0 innings of work. Charlie Dant came on to work 4.0 innings out of the pen, scattering four hits, striking out five and walking three with two runs allowed. Dant uncorked six wild pitches in the game. Corey Johnson worked a scoreless eighth for the Flyers.
Robby Sunderman (2-for-4, 2B) paced a six-hit effort by Dayton. Ian Hundley (1-for-4) and Jared Broughton (1-for-4, run) also had hits, as did Podlas (1-for-3, HR, RBI) and Rohr (1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI).
The two teams will play again on Saturday, with a doubleheader slated to start at 1:00 pm. Both games will be broadcast live on The Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com).