BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Gardner-Webb scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning and had the tying run in scoring position with two outs, but the Runnin' Bulldogs were unable to complete the rally, falling to UNC Asheville by a 6-5 score on Thursday night.
Gardner-Webb (22-28, 9-13 Big South) led off the ninth with Justin Kunz drawing a walk from UNC Asheville (23-28, 11-11 Big South) reliever Kole Harris. Mickey Dugan would hit a single to center field to put runners on first and second base with no outs.
Paul Trick would strike out for the second out of the frame, but Corey Howard would drive in two runs on a two-run single to center field to pull GWU within one run at 6-5 with two away and runners on first and second.
The Runnin' Bulldogs would be unable to finish their rally as the game would end on a groundout by Collin Thacker.
Gardner-Webb would jump out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. Danny Sullivan led off the inning with a single to left field. He would steal second base and advance to third base on a wild pitch by Asheville starter Greg Gasparro. Kunz would reach on a walk to put runners on first and third, and another wild pitch from Gasparro would allow Sullivan score. Later in the inning, a RBI double by Simmons in the right field corner would plate Kunz.
UNC Asheville would answer in the fifth. With two outs, Joe Tietjen would reach on an infield single, followed by a RBI double by Justin Woods and a RBI single by Kyle Carruthers to tie the game at 2-2.
Tyler Serricchio would reach on a fielding error by Simmons, which set up a three-run home run by Brandon Lankford to give Asheville a 5-2 lead.
Neiter team would score until the seventh when Asheville would plate one run on a sacrifice fly by Carruthers, scoring Tietjen,who led off the frame with a double to center field.
Gardner-Webb would score once in the seventh as well on a sacrifice fly by Dugan that plated Chandler Redmond, who led off with a single to right field, to set the score at 6-3.
Bradley Hallman (3-6) took the loss for Gardner-Webb, allowing five runs, with only two being earned, on six base hits with three strikeouts. Aaron Stewart, Jarrett Thompson, and Taylor Goodwin each pitched one inning in relief.
The Runnin' Bulldogs had eight base hits on the evening from eight different players. Simmons (1-for-4, 2B, RBI) and Howard (1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) each had extra base hits.
Blake Brown (1-1) earned the win for UNC Asheville, tossing 3.0 innings of relief, allowing no runs on no hits with three strikeouts. Harris tossed the final two innings to earn the save.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm.