Bulldogs rally to top Crusaders in CC tourney opener

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TIGERVILLE, S.C. — After a regular season that saw the Barton College baseball team defy preseason prognostications in NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas, the Bulldogs aren’t quite ready to face an elimination setting in tournament play.

Junior shortstop JoJo Allen, part of a massive roster overhaul for second-year head coach Jim Chester prior to the season, had a three-run homer in the first inning off of starter Sam Luchansky, and the Bulldogs capitalized on Belmont Abbey miscues in the eighth inning to post three runs and rally for an 8-7 victory at Ray & Bea Dillard Field.

Allen’s homer was one of three long balls for the No. 2 seed Bulldogs, who moved to 31-18 overall and is now one victory away from matching the school record for victories in a season. Junior Chase Riker and senior Troy Maslowski also homered for Barton, which won its seventh straight game.

Barton moved into a Friday winner’s bracket game against archrival and No. 3 seed University of Mount Olive at 7 p.m. Belmont Abbey, the No. 5 seed, dropped to 25-13 and must play a 3 p.m. elimination game Friday against the loser of No. 7 Emmanuel College and host and regular-season champion North Greenville.

The Bulldogs overcame four errors in the contest and being outhit 12-10 by the Crusaders. Trailing 7-5 in the eighth, Barton loaded the bases with no one out via singles from Gatlin Pate, Juan Martinez and Riker. Maslowski’s sacrifice fly to center field plated Pate. Two batters later, a ball off the bat of Jacob Marcos led to a two-run error that permitted Riker and pinch runner Christian Murua to score.

With a lead, sophomore Colby Warren retired North Greenville in order in the ninth to end it. Warren (4-4) was masterful in relief, holding North Greenville to just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three and didn’t allow a walk.

Jason White took the loss in relief for the Crusaders, working 1 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits, but just one of his three runs were earned.

For Barton, Maslowski had a solo homer in the fourth to tie it at 4, and after Belmont Abbey went ahead in the fifth, Riker swatted a solo homer to Rright field in the sixth to tie it at 5. Barton’s eighth-inning rally was ignited after Belmont Abbey’s Zach Aehlert hit a two-run homer in the seventh to construct Belmont Abbey’s 7-5 lead.

Riker was 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI for Barton, with Marcos going 2 for 5 with a triple. Noah Almond doubled. Belmont Abbey had four players with two hits. Mason Dodd tacked on a solo homer in the third for the Crusaders.

Score by innings:

Belmont Abbey 301 010 200 7

Barton 300 101 03x 8

WP-Colby Warren (4-4) 2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO. LP-Jason White (2-2) 1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Chase Riker 3-4, 2B, RBI, Jacob Marcos 2-5, 3B, JoJo Allen 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, Noah Almond 1-4, 2B; Belmont Abbey: Patrick Taylor 2-5, Zach Aehlert 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, Richard DeLaCruz 2-4, RBI, Jakob Rolly 2-4, Mason Dodd 1-5, HR, 2 RBI.