The Barton College baseball team separated itself from any association with last place in the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas by sweeping a league doubleheader from King (Tennessee) University in Fleming Stadium on Friday evening.
The Bulldogs of head coach Josh Simmons claimed the opener 8-1. The second game, scheduled for seven innings, went an extra inning before a wild pitch enabled Barton to emerge a 3-2 walk-off victor.
Barton and King entered the twinbill deadlocked for the final two spots in the 10-team conference. The Bulldogs stretched their winning streak to four games in climbing to 3-8 in the conference and to 18-10 overall. The Tornado plunged into sole possession of the conference basement at 1-10 and stand 9-14 overall.
Weather permitting, the teams complete the three-game series in Fleming Stadium with a single game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
In sweeping the Tornado, Barton was boosted by complete-game mound performances from right-handers Dylan Ward, a sophomore, and Trent Fennell, a junior.
In the nine-inning opener, Ward limited the Tornado to six hits and an unearned run in upping his record to 5-2. Ward issued two walks and struck out eight.
Likewise, Fennell was dominant in the second game in notching his fourth win without a loss. Fennell yielded seven hits, two earned runs and three walks while striking out 11.
The Bulldogs won the second game without benefit of a hit in the bottom of the eighth. A 2-2 tie had existed since the fifth inning.
Through seven innings, King starting pitcher Mark Hendricks (2-5) shackled the Bulldogs on five hits and two earned runs. He had allowed two walks while striking out 10.
But in the bottom of the eighth, senior Barton catcher Andrew Webster led off by reaching on an error. Senior shortstop Calvin Hawke drew Hendrick’s third walk, resulting in the King pitcher’s departure.
Mitch Strophel relieved for King and delivered but two pitches. Both were wild pitches, with Webster coming home with the walk-off run.
Trailing 2-0, the Bulldogs scratched to a 2-2 tie with a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Webster, in the fourth, doubled and scored on sophomore third baseman Gatlin Pate’s one-out single. In the fifth, senior first baseman Shawn Montren walked, took second on a wild pitch and darted home on Webster’s double.
J.P. Castaneda doubled home King’s two runs in the second inning.
In the opener, the Bulldogs staked Ward to the only two runs he would need in the first inning. Hawke crushed his fifth home run, a solo shot, in the fifth inning. Senior center fielder Tyler Garrett laced an RBI single in the fourth. In the eighth, Hawke had an RBI single and Pate drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.