BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb dropped both ends of a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon to ACC member Syracuse, as the Orange came away with wins of 5-2 and 6-2 at Brinkley Softball Stadium.
GAME ONE: Syracuse 5, Gardner-Webb 2
Syracuse ace Alexa Romero was dominant in the opening game of Tuesday's twinbill, taking a no-hitter into the seventh to lead the Orange (14-8) to a 5-2 win over the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The Orange scored one run each in the second and fourth innings, then broke the game open with three runs in the sixth to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
A leadoff single by Faith Cain started the sixth, but she was cut down trying to stretch that hit into a double. The Orange would have more in the tank, however, as Rachel Burkhardt drew a walk and Hannah Dossett beat out an infield single to put two on board.
A single to left by Jessica Heese loaded the bases, then Toni Martin stepped in with another single to drive in a pair. Martin advanced to second on a throwing error, then scored on a two-out single by Sammy Fernandez for a 5-0 lead. Fernandez swiped second base on the next play, but Gardner-Webb reliever Ashley Wark ended the threat with a strikeout.
Fernandez drove in the game's first run with an RBI groundout in the second and Dossett scored in the fourth inning on an error to push Syracuse's lead to 2-0.
A line drive to first base was snagged by Cain to keep the shutout intact, but Wacaster and Gibbons each moved into scoring position. Romero worked out of the jam to keep the 5-0 score – and the no-hitter – intact.
Gardner-Webb finally found the barrel in the seventh, getting a leadoff walk from Maddie Lewis to get a runner on board quickly. Annamarie Warley followed with an RBI double to drive in pinch runner Allie Barrick to trim the Orange lead to 5-1 – and to break up the no-hit bid.
Romero was lifted after a walk to Sam Harrell and reliever Sydney O'Hara came on for the save opportunity. Rachel Cumiskey cut the lead to 5-2 with an RBI groundout, but O'Hara ended the game with a strikeout.
Romero (5-3) went 6.0 innings, allowed one hit and two runs with 11 strikeouts. She walked six. O'Hara picked up her fifth save of the season with 1.0 inning of relief work in the circle and two strikeouts.
Syracuse had eight hits in the game, with Dossett (2-for-2) and Martin (2-for-3, 2 RBI) leading the charge.
Mackenzie Thompson (2-5) took the pitching loss for Gardner-Webb, working 5.1 innings and allowing three earned runs on seven hits. She walked three and struck out one batter. Wark came on to work 1.2 scoreless frames, fanning a pair and allowing just one hit.
Wacaster (0-for-2, 2 BB) reached base twice for Gardner-Webb, as did Warley (1-for-2, 2B, RBI, BB).
GAME TWO: Syracuse 6, Gardner-Webb 2
Visiting Syracuse jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings and added two more in the fifth to take a 6-2 win and the doubleheader sweep at Gardner-Webb.
Gardner-Webb (7-17) rapped out four hits in the nightcap, but stranded seven runners in a game that saw the 'Dogs go 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Syracuse (15-8) had 10 hits – and stranded 10 base runners – but went 7-of-19 (.368) with RISP.
The Orange took the lid off the scoring in the first, getting a two-run double from Rachel Burkhardt and got an RBI triple in the second from Sydney O'Hara to pushed the lead to 4-0.
Gardner-Webb answered with a run in the third inning, as Allie Barrick led off with a single into left and Kaylee Wacaster followed with an infield single with one away. Rachel Cumiskey walked to load the bases, and Alia Booth drew a walk with the bases juiced to cut the lead to 4-1.
Syracuse went up 6-1 in the fifth, taking advantage of a walk a pair of stolen bases and an RBI double from Bryce Holmgren.
Gardner-Webb answered with its final run in the bottom half of the fifth. Cumiskey was hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch one batter later, then moved to third when Megan Gibbons reached on a fielding error.
Cumiskey tagged and darted home on a high fly ball to shortstop, making the score 6-2.
The Runnin' Bulldogs could not mount a rally late, going down in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
Faith Cain (2-for-3) and Burkhardt (2-for-4) led the Syracuse offense, which saw eight different batters collect a hit.
AnnaMarie Gatti (5-3) picked up the win in relief for Syracuse, working 5.0 innings and allowing two runs on four hits. She fanned five and walked three batters.
Gardner-Webb got one hit each from Wacaster (1-for-4), Gibbons (1-for-4), Maddi Johnson (1-for-3) and Barrick (1-for-3) in the nightcap.
Gardner-Webb will be back in action on Wednesday, March 22 – hosting Winthrop at 4:00 pm in a Big South Conference doubleheader.
Wednesday's twinbill at home with Furman has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.