BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb split a pair of midweek games with College of Charleston Wednesday at Brinkley Softball Stadium, winning the opener, 5-2, and falling in the nightcap, 8-5.
GAME ONE – Gardner-Webb 5, College of Charleston 2
Gardner-Webb rapped out eight hits and used a three-run fifth inning burst to take control, beating College of Charleston by a 5-2 score in the opener of Wednesday's soggy doubleheader.
After the Cougars (26-18) took a 1-0 lead on a single and two errors in the top of the second, Gardner-Webb tied the game in the bottom half.
After a dropped foul ball, Megan Champion drilled a double off the top of the wall in left center – narrowly missing a home run. A ground ball moved Champion to third and after Annamarie Warley singled to third to put runners on the corners – Madi Lewis reached on a fielder's choice to drive home Champion for a tie score.
Gardner-Webb (13-29) took the lead in the fourth when Callie Thornton drilled a solo home run to left with two outs in the inning.
The insurance came in the fifth.
Lewis led off with a single, then Kaylee Wacaster came through with a one-out single to shortstop. Rachel Cumiskey pushed the lead to 3-1 quickly, roping a double into left to drive home pinch runner Maddi Johnson.
With Wacaster on third, Alia Booth stepped in with a two-run single to center, driving home both Wacaster and Cumiskey for a 5-1 lead.
Charleston plated one run in the top of the seventh, but Gardner-Webb pitcher Ashley Wark stranded the bases full of Cougars to end the game.
Wark (6-5) picked up the win, going the distance and allowing just two unearned runs in 7.0 innings. She scattered seven hits, walked two and fanned one. Wark worked well with her defense, rolling 12 ground ball outs.
Cumiskey (2-for-3, 2B, RBI) was the star offensively, with Wacaster (1-for-4), Booth (1-for-3), Champion (1-for-3, 2B), Thornton (1-for-2, HR, RBI), Warley (1-for-3) and Lewis (1-for-3) also collecting hits.
College of Charleston's Sam Martin (5-5) took the loss in the circle, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work.
The Cougars got three hits from Madi Brown (3-for-3) and two from Dexlie Inman (2-for-2).
GAME TWO – College of Charleston 8, Gardner-Webb 5
Gardner-Webb held a comfortable 5-0 lead after five innings, but saw College of Charleston score eight unanswered to take an 8-5 win.
The Cougars pulled even in the sixth, scoring five runs on three hits and an error. After Taylor DuPree led off with a single to third base, Dexlie Inman reached on an error. Jordin Jones coaxed a walk to load the bases and Taylor Belfiore earned another walk to trim the lead to 5-1.
An RBI single to center by Katie Padilla cut the lead to 5-2 and Madi Brown stepped in to clear the bases with a three-run double to tie the score.
Gardner-Webb pitcher Summer Darnell recovered with a pair of strikeouts to keep the game tied and end the inning.
The Runnin' Bulldogs loaded the bases themselves in the bottom half, taking advantage of three walks, but a pop up ended the threat.
Charleston took the lead in the top of the seventh for good, going up 6-5 when DuPree led off with a single, stole second and scored on a wild pitch. With a runner on board, Belfiore delivered the big blow, belting a two-run home run to left for an 8-5 Cougars' lead.
Gardner-Webb got a one-out double from Maddi Johnson in the bottom of the seventh, but could not get any runs across.
The Runnin' Bulldogs jumped on top quickly, getting four runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. Megan Champion's RBI double followed walks to Rachel Cumiskey and Alia Booth for a 1-0 lead.
Johnson added another RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to push the lead to 5-0, but Charleston had its rally in store.
Reliever Olivia Henson (2-1) took the loss out of the bullpen, allowing three runs in 1.0 inning of work. Darnell earned a no decision after allowing five runs (three earned) in 6.0 innings pitched.
Gardner-Webb had five hits in the game, with Johnson (2-for-3, 2B, RBI), Warley (1-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI), Cumiskey (1-for-3) and Champion (1-for-2, 2B, RBI) collecting those knocks.
College of Charleston finished with nine base hits, led by DuPree (3-for-4) and Belfiore (3-for-3, HR, 3 RBI). Brown (2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI) also had a major impact on the game.
Izzy Berouty (9-4) came out of the bullpen for the win, hurling 6.0 innings and allowing just one run on three hits. She overcame five walks and struck out one batter.
Gardner-Webb will be back in action on the road Friday, traveling to face Campbell in a three-game series. The opening game will begin at 5:00 pm in Buies Creek. The two teams will wrap up the series on Saturday with a twinbill beginning at 1:00 pm.