Late-Innings Rally Falls Short as Gardner-Webb Falls at West Virginia, 4-3, Sunday Afternoon

Justin Kunz
Justin Kunz

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. – Gardner-Webb would score two runs in the top of the eighth inning and would lead off the ninth with a stand-up double, but the Runnin' Bulldogs would be unable to complete the comeback effort, falling to West Virginia by a 4-3 score on Sunday afternoon. 

Chandler Redmond would reach on a walk to lead off the top of the eighth inning, followed by a ground-rule double by Justin Kunz that put runners on second and third with no outs for Gardner-Webb (22-27).

A wild pitch by West Virginia (30-20) reliever Kade Stroud allowed Redmond to come across the plate and put Kunz on third base, with a deep sacrifice fly by Matt Simmons to center field driving in Kunz to pull the Runnin' Bulldogs within one run at 4-3.

Paul Trick would lead off the ninth with a stand-up double to right field, but WVU closer Braden Zarbnisky would strike out the next three batters to end the game.

Today's loss for Gardner-Webb is the eighth consecutive loss for the team, with four being by a single run. 

The Mountaineers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run single by Darius Hill.

Gardner-Webb would cut its deficit in half in the top of the third inning.  Mickey Dugan would lead off the inning by drawing a walk from WVU pitcher Alek Manoah, and would later steal second base. 

A fly out to right field by Paul Trick would allow Dugan to advance to third base, and a RBI double down the left field line by Corey Howard would score Dugan to set the score at 2-1.

West Virginia scored once in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Davis that scored Ivan Gonzalez, increasing its lead to 3-1. 

WVU would tack on an additional run in the seventh as a RBI groundout by Kyle Gray plated Chase Illig, who led off the frame with a base hit.

Landon Mitchell (4-4) took the loss for Gardner-Webb, lasting 5.2 innings while allowing three runs on four base hits with one strikeout.

The Runnin' Bulldogs collected ten base hits throughout the day, with Howard (2-for-3, 2B, RBI), Kunz (2-for-3, 2 2B, run), and Trick (2-for-5, 2B) each having multiple hits.

Manoah (1-1) earned the win for West Virginia, tossing 5.2 innings while allowing just one run on six hits with seven strikeouts.  Zarbnisky tossed the final inning to earn his fifth save of the season. 

The Mountaineers tallied seven base hits, led by Jackson Cramer (2-for-4).

Gardner-Webb returns home for the first time since April 26, opening a crucial Big South Conference series with UNC Asheville on Thursday evening at 5:00 pm.