Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Credit senior first baseman Chase Riker with a Senior Day to cherish as the Barton College baseball team ended its regular season with an NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas doubleheader sweep of Southern Wesleyan University on Saturday.
Riker celebrated his day by batting a torrid 6 for 7 with two home runs, a double, five runs batted in and five runs scored in leading the Bulldogs to victories of 6-4 in the seven-inning first game and 6-1 in the second game of the regulation nine innings.
In continuing their late-season tear, the Bulldogs of second-year head coach Jim Chester, projected to finish seventh in the head coaches preseason poll, clinched second place outright in the conference and boosted their winning streak to six games. Barton finished 17-9 in the conference and 30-18 overall.
The Bulldogs, after managing just 12 wins last season, are just two wins shy of equaling the program’s single-season record for most wins (32). Barton defeated every conference opponent at least once and enters the conference tournament in Tigerville, South Carolina, as the No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs earned a bye and will take on the winner of Wednesday’s first-round matchup between No. 5 Belmont Abbey and No. 8 Chowan in the second round Thursday at 3 p.m.
The sweep of Southern Wesleyan was the third against a conference opponent. Friday’s series opener that was washed out against the Warriors will not be rescheduled. Southern Wesleyan wound up 7-18 in the league and 17-28 overall.
But back to Riker.
The first baseman blasted a solo homer, drove in three runs and scored a pair in the first game. Junior shortstop JoJo Allen also homered.
The Bulldogs survived four solo homers off the Warriors’ bats of right fielder Tanner Glass, first baseman Quinton Bent, left fielder Devin Patrick and catcher Conner Ewing.
Three of the blasts came against Barton starting pitcher Colby Shimmel, honored last week as the Div. II National Pitcher of the Week and the league pitcher of the week. However, Shimmel lasted four innings and picked up his fifth win against three losses.
Colby Warren, Ryan Pifer and junior Nate McKenrick worked in relief, with McKenrick retiring the last two batters and notching his first save.
In game 2, Riker went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. The score was knotted 1-1 until Riker laced a run-scoring single in the bottom of the fourth. Riker walloped his second homer of a windy afternoon that did not befriend pitchers in the sixth.
Senior Hunter Pearre drove in two runs with a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly. Senior Juan Martinez delivered a run-scoring grounder and Trevor Edior added an RBI single in the fourth.
Bulldogs pitchers Jakob Ryan, the starter, sophomore Alex Hart and senior Dylan Ward limited the Warriors to a pair of hits and combined for 15 strikeouts.
Hart, a right-hander, allowed but one hit in a five-inning stint and struck out struck out nine in recording his third win against two losses.
Southern Wesleyan’s only run came on D.J. Ludwick’s homer against Ryan, a junior, in the third inning.
Riker, Martinez, Pearre, Ward, Troy Maslowski, Chase Long, Gatlin Pate, Clint Marsh, Carter Brogden and Andrew Davis are the Barton seniors.
Score by innings:
So. Wesleyan 020 101 0 — 4
Barton 031 011 x — 6
WP-Colby Shimmel (5-3) 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO. LP-Jackson Fischer (1-4) 3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO. S-Nate McKenrick (1) 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Southern Wesleyan: Timo Schau 2-4, Tanner Glass 1-4, HR; Quinton Bent 1-3, HR; Devin Patrick 1-3, HR; Connor Ewing 2-2, HR; Barton: Chase Riker 3-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R; JoJo Allen 1-3, HR; Gatlin Pate 1-2, Trevor Edior 1-2.
So. Wesleyan 001 000 000 — 1
Barton 000 401 01x — 6
WP-Alex Hart (3-2) 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO. LP-Aaron Bennett (3-3) 3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Southern Wesleyan; D.J. Ludwick 1-3, HR; Jarred Jones 1-3; Barton: Chase Riker 3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R; Trevor Edior 2-4, RBI; Hunter Pearre, 1-3, 2 RBI.