BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Gardner-Webb exploded for four runs in the bottom of the sixth and six runs in the bottom of the seventh before holding off Lipscomb for a 12-9 win in the rubber match of a three-game Atlantic Sun Conference series.
GWU (12-16, 2-4 A-Sun) trailed 4-2 heading into the sixth, but Jamaal Kinard and Justin Loyd greeted the Bison with consecutive singles to lead off the frame. Jay McConnell pulled the ‘Dogs to within 4-3 with an RBI hit – and after the Bulldogs loaded the bases – Lipscomb reliever John King plunked Daniel Cooke to tie the game, and walked in a run with a free pass to Shea Harris – giving GWU the lead.
Jon Ahearn executed a nice sacrifice squeeze to push the lead to 6-4 before the Bison could get out of the jam.
Nine hole hitter Caleb Lehning pulled Lipscomb (14-12, 1-2 A-Sun) back to within a run when he led off the seventh with a solo home run, but reliever Josh Drewery was called over from shortstop and got GWU out of the inning still in front.
The Bulldogs pulled away in the seventh.
Kinard led off with a walk, moved to third on a single by Loyd, and scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Drewery. Jeremiah Lokken belted a three-run home run later in the inning for a 10-5 Bulldog lead, and Ahearn and Matt Rizzuto padded the lead with RBI singles for a 12-5 edge.
Lipscomb got a pair of singles to trim the lead to 12-6 in the eighth, then a three-run bomb from light-hitting Ben Williams with two outs to cut the lead to 12-9. Drewery worked out of the jam still in front.
The visitors put their leadoff man on board in the top of the ninth and, with one out, got a free pass to bring the tying run to the plate off of reliever Webster Beal. GWU skipper Rusty Stroupe called his bullpen one last time, and sophomore righty Jonathon Ban came in to fan a pair of Bison batters on eight pitches for his first save of the year.
Gardner-Webb pounded out 16 hits in the game, with McConnell (3-for-3, HR) and Loyd (3-for-4) leading the way. Cooke (2-for-3, 2 steals), Lokken (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) and Rizzuto (2-for-5) also had multi-hit games for the ‘Dogs.
Ben Campbell (3-2) picked up the win in 6.0 innings of work, allowing four runs.
Lipscomb managed 13 hits, with Casey Bond (3-for-4, HR) pacing that attack. King (0-2) took the loss in relief for the Bison.
The opener was a marathon, with Lipscomb’s Caleb Joseph belting a two-run homer in the top of the 12th inning for the Bison’s first league win, 6-4.
Gardner-Webb led early, 3-0, but saw Lipscomb go up 4-3 with a pair of runs in the sixth. Ryan Wilkins’ second solo home run of the game got that rally started for Lipscomb, and Justin Sanders gave the Bison a lead with an RBI hit.
GWU tied the game, 4-4, in the seventh on a pinch hit RBI single by Jon Crockett – but could not take advantage further – despite getting two runners on board with no outs.
Beal, who got GWU out of its sixth-inning jam, worked strong into the 12th, before Joseph’s big blow.
Taylor Merry got the win after 6.0 strong innings of relief work (six strikeouts). Beal (1-4) took the loss – after 6.1 innings of relief work himself.
Gardner-Webb struggled at the plate in the opener, tallying just six hits in 12 innings. Ahearn had two of those six hits, including a two-run home run in the second – the first of his college career.
Lipscomb had 11 safeties, with Wilkins (3-for-6, 2 HR) leading the way.
Gardner-Webb returns to action on Tuesday night at No. 5 Clemson. First pitch is slated for 7:15 pm ET at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.