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While Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep of Piedmont International University wasn’t played in the most hospitable weather for baseball, Barton College was nice and comfortable at home.
The Bulldogs, in playing their 10th and 11th straight games at Nixon Field, won the opener 11-1 in five innings before claiming the second game, 9-2, with temperatures in the low 40s. With its 10th victory in 15 outings, Barton, in the second season under head coach Jim Chester, has almost matched its 2018 win total of 12 victories. Nine of those wins have come during the extended homestand, which Chester said was important for his young team in the early season.
“I think it’s helped us a lot,” he said. “What’s important is that we’re really figuring out our team, what roles what guys are going to play and what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Piedmont International (0-4), a second-year program playing in the National Christian College Athletic Association, may not have been the ideal measuring stick for Barton, but playing two games was better than practice any day.
“Absolutely,” Chester said. “You can’t simulate what we were able to see today in game situations in practice.”
The Bulldogs head coach pointed out that he was able to use nine pitchers in the doubleheader, including seven in the second game. Freshman right-hander Donovan Waitman got in the most work as the game 1 starter, going four shutout innings for his second win without a loss. Waitman gave up just one hit — a fourth-inning double by Kevin Greenwood with a runner on first base. However, the Valencia, California, product struck out the next batter to keep the shutout intact. Piedmont pushed across a run in the top of the fifth off Barton reliever Clint Marsh.
Barton scored four runs in the bottom of the first when senior Hunter Pearre roped a bases-loaded double to left-center field before scoring on a passed ball.
Freshman Jacob Marcos led the Bulldogs with a 2-for-3 showing that included a two-run single in the fourth inning.
In the second game, a pair of Bruins errors on the same play allowed Troy Maslowski to score the game’s first run in the bottom of the first.
Barton added two more in the second when Noah Almond drilled a lead-off double to left-center and Chase Riker dropped a bloop double down the left-field line. Piedmont International starting pitcher Jacob Ladley seemed as though he might wiggle out of further damage when he struck out second baseman Shawn Harrison on a 3-2 pitch and got left fielder Trevor Edior to ground out to first. However, Marcos rapped an infield single to score Almond and Maslowski rippled a single to left to bring in Riker.
After Barton added another run in the bottom of the fourth, the Bruins got on the scoreboard in the top half of the fifth when designated hitter John Giboyeaux hammered a 1-0 pitch from freshman reliever Trevor Mills, a Fike High product, over the fence in left field. Piedmont pushed across another run later in the inning to cut the lead to 4-2.
But the Bulldogs erupted for five runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach. Marcos and Maslowski each delivered two-run singles in the uprising. Each went 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
Junior right-hander Ben Tinnell, who followed Barton starter Mason Cooper on the mound, pitched a perfect third inning to get the win, his first as a Bulldog. Hunt High product Tyler Wells, a freshman right-hander, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh.
Sophomores Gatlin Pate and Colby Warren did not play Tuesday although both are expected to be in action this weekend as Barton opens NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas play at defending regular-season and tournament champion North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.
“We’ve got a pretty tough test this weekend and I know our guys are pretty excited about it,” Chester said.