BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Winthrop ace Matt Pierpont went the distance Friday night and the Eagles pulled away late to top Gardner-Webb, 4-1, at John Henry Moss Stadium.
Gardner-Webb (15-12, 1-3 Big South) got the go-ahead run to the plate with one out in the bottom of the eighth, getting a single from Brad Collins to lead off the inning and a four-pitch walk to Scott Johnson. A one-out infield single by Zeke Blanton loaded the bases for the middle of the GWU order, but Pierpont got a pop up to shallow left field and a ground ball to end the threat.
Winthrop (8-19, 1-3 Big South) scored single runs in the second and third innings to take an early 2-0 lead, but saw Gardner-Webb pull within 2-1 on a two-out RBI triple from Johnson in the bottom of the fifth. Ryan Hodge scored on the play after lacing a one-out single to left.
The Eagles built a cushion with two outs in the top of the eight. Patrick Gamblin blasted a line drive over the fence in left for a two-run home run, pushing Winthrop's lead to 4-1. Gamblin scored the Eagles' first run of the game as well, leading off the second with a double to left and scoring on a double play grounder.
Pierpont made the 4-1 lead stand, retiring Gardner-Webb in order in the bottom of the ninth for his second complete game performance of the season.
The junior righty scattered seven hits, struck out three and walked two on the night, needing just 112 pitches to get through the game.
Winthrop collected eight hits in the game, paced by Justin Hopper (3-for-4) and Gamblin (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI). T.J. Olesczuk (2-for-4, 2B, RBI) also had a pair of hits for the Eagles.
Freshman Matt Fraudin (1-2) was tagged with the loss, despite allowing just two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings of work. The big righty fanned three Winthrop batters in his second league start in as many weeks.
Another freshman, shortstop Ryan Hodge, went 2-for-4 with a run scored to pace Gardner-Webb's seven-hit offensive effort. John Harris (1-for-4), Dusty Quattlebaum (1-for-4), Blanton (1-for-3), Collins (1-for-3) and Johnson (1-for-3, 3B, RBI) also had hits for the 'Dogs.
The two teams will get together for the second game of the series on Saturday at 2:00 pm. The game will air live on WGWG-FM (88.3 / wgwg.org), with the Voice of the Runnin' Bulldogs Fabian Fuentes and Travis Sherrill calling the action from John Henry Moss Stadium/Bill Masters Field.