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BRISTOL, Tenn. — After rallying from a 4-1 deficit to lead 5-4, the Barton College baseball team became a walk-off victim in the finale of a three-game series Saturday to launch NCAA Division II Carolinas Conference play.
Left fielder Kevin Barbato connected for a two-run home run with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to enable host King University to walk off with a 7-5 victory and claim two of the series’ three games.
The Bulldogs, coming off a doubleheader split Friday, exited 1-2 in the league and 7-10 overall. King emerged 2-1 and 9-4, respectively.
Barbato blasted his homer following a lead-off walk to Austin Meyer by right-handed Barton freshman reliever Colby Warren. In taking his first loss without a win, Warren failed to retire a batter.
The Tornado walked off after the Bulldogs squandered an excellent threat in the top half of the ninth against reliever Mark Michael, who came in from third base to pitch the last two innings.
The Bulldogs rallied to a 4-4 tie with three runs in the sixth. Barton loaded the bases on two hit batsmen and Warren’s single. Sophomore catcher Noah Almond drilled an RBI single up the middle The Bulldogs added two runs on an error and a passed ball.
Barton seized the lead in the seventh when Pate led off with a homer.
Maslowski started on the mound for Barton and last two innings. Junior Ryan Pifer gave up a run in the third. Freshman Austin Lee, freshman Clay Walters and Chase Long, a junior right-hander from Hunt High, combined to shut out the Tornado for three innings. Sophomore Landry Moore yielded the seventh-inning run.
Barton breaks from conference play to welcome Division II Chowan University at 2 p.m. Tuesday on the Nixon Field diamond.