The Runnin' Bulldogs (20-15-1) saw North Carolina A&T (13-23) escape with a 5-1 win in the nightcap, however. The two teams split their four-game season series in 2013.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the sixth inning of Saturday's opener, Gardner-Webb needed a lift at the plate. JJ Nazzaro led off the sixth with a solo blast to left field to break up the shutout, and started a key rally for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Nazzaro belted the first pitch he saw for his second round trip shot of the season. Benji Jackson roped a single with one out and Scott Coleman doubled into the corner in right to give Gardner-Webb some life. A sharp, two-out single by John Harris tied the game, driving home both Jackson and Coleman for a 3-3 score.
Gardner-Webb had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, getting Tyler Best on board with a walk to lead off the inning. Brantley Smith was plunked trying to bunt Best to second, and Nazzaro moved both men into scoring position with a nicely placed sacrifice bunt – a ball he nearly beat out to first.
Henry Rundio walked to load the bases, but reliever Bradley Jeffries coaxed a 4-6-3 double play to snuff out the rally.
Gardner-Webb reliever Mitch Warner mowed down the Aggies in the eighth and ninth, and Scott Johnson led off the bottom of the ninth with a bloop single into the triangle in right field. An error on Best's ensuing sacrifice bunt attempt put two on board, and a balk moved both into scoring position with Hunter Smith at the plate.
The Whiteville, N.C., freshman ripped a 2-2 fastball into the gap in right center to end the game.
Warner (2-0) picked up the win with a brilliant effort out of the pen, allowing just one hit, striking out two in 5.0 scoreless innings. Starter Andrew Barnett scattered nine hits and allowed three runs in 4.0 innings, striking out eight batters with no free passes allowed.
After allowing a single to lead off the seventh, Warner sat down nine batters in a row.
Gardner-Webb had eight hits in the game, with Johnson going 3-for-4 to lead that effort.
Jeffries (0-2) was hit with the loss out of the bullpen, allowing just one unearned run in 1.2 innings of work (two hits). Starter Josh Ganus pitched around six hits and five walks in 6.1 innings of a no decision – allowing three runs.
Luke Tendler went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBI to pace North Carolina A&T's 10-hit offensive effort. Jeovanny Tolentino also had a pair of safeties in the game (2-for-4).
North Carolina A&T starter Tyler Boone (2-3) went the distance, scattering six hits and pitching around three walks in a 5-1 win for the Aggies in Saturday's nightcap.
The righty allowed just one run on a groundout in the eighth inning and struck out a pair of Gardner-Webb batters.
The Aggies scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth and added a pair in the top of the ninth on a wild pitch and a bases loaded walk.
Conner Scarborough (1-5) took the loss on the mound, despite allowing just two runs in 5.1 innings pitched. He scattered six hits, fanned four and walked one.
The Aggies had 10 hits, with the bottom third of the order collecting half of those.
Gardner-Webb will hit the road for a four-game swing next week, traveling to face Western Carolina on Wednesday at 5:00 pm in Cullowhee. The 'Dogs will hit the road to play Big South newcomer Longwood this weekend, beginning on Friday in Farmville, Va.