SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Gardner-Webb dropped both ends of a Thursday doubleheader at USC Upstate, falling 8-0 (5) and 2-1 on 2017 Opening Day.
USC Upstate got a double from Ansley Gilstrap with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a 2-1 win in the nightcap.
Gardner-Webb (0-2) led throughout after junior college transfer Annamarie Warley belted a solo bomb – her first as a Runnin' Bulldog – to left field for a 1-0 lead.
Senior ace Mackenzie Thompson pitched well to make that lead stand, blanking the Spartans (2-0) through to hold the lead into the bottom of the sixth. She pitched around a double and a base on balls in the fourth to strand a pair of Spartans.
Callie Thornton led off the top of the fifth with a single to right, but USC Upstate starter Holly McKinnon worked out of the jam to keep the Spartans within a run.
Thompson recorded two quick outs to start the bottom of the sixth – doing so on five pitches – but fell behind in the count to Upstate slugger Abbie Milette. The cleanup hitter took a 3-1 pitch over the left field fence to tie the game. The shot was her second home run of the twinbill.
USC Upstate got the go-ahead run on board after a single one batter later, but Thompson recovered to record a three-pitch strikeout to get back into the dugout with the score tied.
The Runnin' Bulldogs went down in order in the top of the seventh, and Thompson coaxed a pair of ground ball outs to begin the seventh. A two-out walk to Kendsey Chappelear proved costly, however, as Ansley Gilstrap stepped in with a game-winning double to left center – plating Chappelear from first for the 2-1 final score.
Thompson scattered five hits over 6.2 innings of work and struck out three batters.
Warley (1-for-3, HR, RBI) and Thornton (1-for-3) collected Gardner-Webb's two hits in the game.
McKinnon (1-0) picked up the mound win for the Spartans, allowing one run on two hits in a complete-game effort. She fanned 11 (10 swinging) and walked just one.
Upstate got two hits each from Millete (2-for-3, HR, RBI) and Kori Wancheck (2-for-3) in the game.
Gardner-Webb collected a fifth inning single from Callie Thornton in the season opener Thursday, but fell by an 8-0 score in five innings to USC Upstate.
Spartans' ace Lexi Schubert had a no-hitter with one outs in the fifth before Thornton rapped a single up the middle. It was the lone base runner of the opener for the Runnin' Bulldogs (0-1).
Upstate plated a run with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to force the early ending.
The Spartans (1-0) scored four runs in a decisive first-inning burst, getting a two-run single from Karla Beasley and a two-run home run from cleanup hitter Abbie Millete. A two-run triple by Kendsey Chappelear to left center pushed the lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth, and Ansley Gilstrap followed with a single up the middle to plate Chappelear for a 7-0 lead.
Ashley Wark (0-1) took the mound loss for Gardner-Webb, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings of work. Wark fanned five and walked two in the start.
Shubert (1-0) fanned nine and did not issue a free pass in the game for USC Upstate, working 5.0 shutout innings.
Chappelear (2-for-2, 3B, 2 RBI), Beasley (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Brittany Case (2-for-3, RBI) each had a pair of hits to pace the Spartans.
Gardner-Webb will open a busy February home slate on Friday, entertaining several teams at Brinkley Softball Stadium for the 2017 AmericInn Classic. The three-day event begins at 11:00 am on Friday as North Carolina A&T takes on Alabama A&M.
The Runnin' Bulldogs are scheduled to play Alabama A&M at 3 pm and will close the first day of action at 5 pm vs. ETSU. Visit the AmericInn Classic tournament page here for daily schedules and live stats links.