LEXINGTON, S.C. – Gardner-Webb would plate two runs in the top of the ninth inning and would have the tying and go-ahead runs on base with one out, but the seventh-seeded Runnin' Bulldogs would not complete the rally, falling to No. 3 Presbyterian by a 7-6 score on Friday afternoon at the 2017 Big South Conference Baseball Championship.
Trailing by a 7-4 score, GWU (25-29) would lead off the frame with a solo home run to center field by Collin Thacker. It was his ninth home run of the season and his second of the tournament.
Presbyterian (31-27) reliever Ryan Hedrick would then walk Danny Sullivan, and would allow the tying run on, as Chandler Redmond would send a base knock up the middle of the infield to put two on with no outs.
Matt Simmons connect with a single to left field to plate Sullivan and put Clary on third, setting the score at 7-6 with one away.
PC would bring in Eric Miles to pitch, and he would record two straight ground ball outs to end the game.
Presbyterian would jump out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning as A.J. Priaulx hit a two-run home run just over the right field wall to give the Blue Hose a 2-0 advantage.
PC would expand its lead to 3-0 in the second inning on a RBI single to center field by Tyler Weyenberg.
The Runnin' Bulldogs would respond in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Mickey Dugan would reach after being hit by a pitch, followed by Peyton McGuire drawing a walk to put runners on first and second.
Paul Trick would step up and on a 3-2 count he would belt a three-run blast well past the left field wall to tie the game at 3-3.
GWU would take the lead in the top of the top of the sixth inning. Dugan would reach on a fielder's choice, which was followed by a double to left field by McGuire to put runners on second and third with one out.
Trick would hit a fast moving grounder to Presbyterian shortstop Cletis Avery, who would mishandle the ball to allow Trick to reach safely and Dugan to score to give the Runnin' Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.
Presbyterian would tie the game in the bottom half of the frame on a solo home run by Nick Wise.
The Blue Hose would retake the lead on a two-run home run to left field by T.J. Richardson in the bottom of the seventh, and would add an insurance run in the eighth on a single to right field by Brett Auckland.
Landon Mitchell (5-5) was saddled with the loss on the mound for Gardner-Webb, allowing six runs on ten hits in six innings of work. Aaron Stewart and Jarrett Thompson each worked an inning of relief.
The Runnin' Bulldogs collected ten base hits, led by Thacker (3-for-5, HR), Trick (2-for-5, HR, 4 RBI) and Simmons (2-for-5, RBI).
Will Smith (4-1) earned the win for Presbyterian, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings of relief. Starter Tanner Chock lasted six innings, allowing four runs on six base hits. Miles earned his second save of the season, recording the final two outs.
No. 7 Gardner-Webb will now take on No. 6 UNC Asheville in an elimination game at 10:00 am Saturday morning.