BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb fell to North Carolina A&T, 5-4, Sunday afternoon in extra innings in the consolation final at the 2017 AmericInn Classic at Brinkley Softball Stadium.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (2-5) rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth, pushing three runs across the plate to go up 3-2 – but saw the Aggies (3-2) plated a pair of runs of their own in the top of the eighth to pull out the win.
North Carolina A&T scored an unearned run in the second and got an RBI single from Stephanie Williams in the third to move out to an early 2-0 lead.
Gardner-Webb got its offense cooking in the sixth, getting a leadoff single freshman standout Alia Booth. Rachel Cumiskey followed with a single to center and Callie Thornton legged out an infield single to load the bases.
Madi Lewis came through with a clutch RBI single to drive home Booth, but Cumiskey was thrown out at the plate trying to knot the score. Megan Champion continued to produce at the plate with an RBI single that tied the game, driving home Thornton.
Allie Barrick then gave the 'Dogs a lead, grounding out to drive home Champion for a 3-2 edge.
The Aggies scratched across a run in the seventh to tie the game once again. Nathaly Pacheco led off with a single and Zadaisha Waddell followed with a double to right to move a pair into scoring position. Gardner-Webb went to the bullpen, and back-to-back hit batters allowed Pacheco to score to tie the game.
Sam Harrell and Champion made clutch defensive plays to keep the score tied, with both cutting down runners at the plate from their infield positions to end the frame.
Gardner-Webb went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, setting up a decisive eight inning.
After a strikeout to open the top of the eighth, the Aggies used a pair of costly errors to take a 4-3 lead. North Carolina A&T then pushed another run across with a double steal for a 5-3 edge. Reliever Summer Darnell recovered with a pair of strikeouts to get GWU back into the dugout.
The Runnin' Bulldogs caught a break in the bottom half, when Booth was able to score on a sacrifice fly all the way from second when the fielder crashed into the fence and was unable to throw home. That made the score 5-4 and Thornton followed with a walk to get the tying run on board. Lewis stroked a line drive to center, but the ball was snagged and the Aggies ended the game one batter later with a strikeout.
Darnell (2-2) took the loss out of the pen, allowing one earned run on two hits in 2.0 innings of work. Olivia Henson started and went 6.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits.
Booth (2-for-3, 2 runs), Thornton (2-for-3, run) and Lewis (2-for-4, RBI, run) each had two of Gardner-Webb's eight hits in the game. Cumiskey (1-for-4, RBI) and Champion (1-for-4, RBI) also had hits for GWU.
Mohogany Headen (1-2) got the relief win for A&T, hurling 1.0 inning and allowing just an unearned run. Waddell got the start and lasted 6.0 innings, scattering eight hits and giving up three runs.
The Aggies collected seven hits in the game, with Waddell (2-for-3) leading that charge.
Gardner-Webb will hit the road for a midweek twinbill, traveling to Charlotte on Wednesday, February 15. First pitch is set for 3:00 pm.