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TIGERVILLE, S.C. — After building a 5-2 lead through three and a half innings of Friday’s NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas baseball tournament game, Barton College was shut out the rest of way by University of Mount Olive in a 6-5 loss.
The No. 2-seeded Bulldogs (31-19), coming off an 8-7 win Thursday against No. 5 Belmont Abbey, now must face the Crusaders again Saturday afternoon in an elimination game at Ashmore Park of the campus of tournament host and top seed North Greenville University. Mount Olive (29-13), the No. 3 seed, will take on NGU at 11 a.m. with the winner headed to the championship game Sunday and the loser facing the Barton-Belmont Abbey winner in another elimination game Saturday evening at 7.
The Bulldogs, who scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a Belmont Abbey, got some help early from the Trojans as starting pitcher Caleb Bishop issued back-to-back walks to Juan Martinez and Chase Riker before an errant pickoff throw allowed Martinez to score with two outs. Bishop then hit Trevior Edior with a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in another run.
Barton’s lead swelled to 4-0 in the third when Gatlin Pate drew a one-out walk off UMO reliever Hunter Britt and Martinez blasted his team-leading eighth home run of the season over the left-field fence. Mount Olive’s Joe Mason answered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning but the Bulldogs came right back on JoJo Allen’s two-out double in the top of the fourth to score Edior, who had led off the inning with a single.
The momentum began to shift, however, in the bottom of the fourth. James Smibert and Blake McLean, a North Johnston High product, opened the frame with consecutive singles off Bulldogs starter Dylan Ward. An error by Allen and a single by Junior Snow brought in a run and ended Ward’s night. His replacement, Andrew Davis, uncorked a wild pitch that brought in another run and Barton head coach Jim Chester summoned Colby Shimmel, usually a starter, to the mound. Shimmel escaped further damage with a 1-6-3 double play but gave a two-out solo homer by Smibert in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score.
Mount Olive scored for the fourth straight inning in the bottom of the sixth when Snow’s double down the left-field line off Shimmel (5-4) brought in Gunner Tolston, who had singled to open the at-bat.
From there Seth Houston and Jake Isbell slammed the door on the Bulldogs as they each threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Houston (1-1) picked the win and Isbell notched his second save. Barton got the leadoff batter aboard in each of the fifth and sixth innings but the Trojans turned double plays each time.
Isbell entered in the seventh with two runners on and only one out and proceeded to get Brayden Olsen to pop up and struck out Troy Maslowski. Isbell allowed just Pate’s one-out single in the ninth, walked none and struck out three.
The Bulldogs are a win from tying the program record of 32 wins in a season.
Score by innings:
Barton 022 100 000 — 5
Mount Olive 002 211 00x — 6
WP-Seth Houston (1-1) 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 SO. LP-Colby Shimmel (5-4) 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO. S- Jake Isbell (2) 2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Gatlin Pate 2-3, R; JoJo Allen 2-5, 2B, RBI; Juan Martinez 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBIs. Mount Olive: Junior Snow 3-5, 2B, RBI; James Smibert 2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI; Blake McLean 2-3, 2B; Joe Mason 1-2, HR, RBI.