Riker’s slam saves Bulldogs in series opener at Emmanuel

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FRANKLIN SPRINGS, Ga. — A grand slam off the bat of Barton College junior Chase Riker snapped a 7-all deadlock in the top of the ninth inning and led to an 11-8 victory for the Bulldogs in the first game of their NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas series Friday at Emmanuel College.

The victory allowed the Bulldogs, now 25-18 overall, to climb back into third place at 13-9, a game ahead of Belmont Abbey (24-20, 14-10 CC) and a game behind second-place Mount Olive (26-11, 14-8), which swept a doubleheader Friday at league-leading North Greenville (31-9, 18-5).

The Bulldogs and Lions (20-22, 11-13) will play a doubleheader Saturday, starting at noon, at Tommy Carey Field.

Riker’s blast, his second of the season, came after he fell into an 0-2 hole and then fouled three straight 1-2 pitches from Lions reliever Cody Waters. Gatlin Pate’s one-out single started the rally and sent freshman reliever Kyle Heuchert (0-1) off the mound in favor of Waters. But Juan Martinez and Troy Maslowski walked before Waters struck out Brayden Olson for the second out, setting up Riker’s heroics.

Colby Warren pitched two innings in relief to get his third win against four losses.

The Lions scratched reliever Frederick May and had the bases loaded before Andrew Davis got Nathan Richardson to ground out to end the game and record his first save.

Riker, who also had a two-run triple in the sixth inning, finished 3 for 5 with a career-high seven RBIs.

Juan Martinez slugged his team-leading sixth homer of the season, a solo shot in the fourth, and finished 3 for 3 with a double. Pate also went 3 for 5 with an RBI and Olsen drove in a pair of runs.

Each team totaled 15 hits.

Score by innings:

Barton 010 103 204 11

Emmanuel 220 000 301 8

WP-Colby Warren (3-4) 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO. LP-Kyle Heuchert (0-1) 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO. S- Andrew Davis (1) 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Chase Riker 3-5, 3B, HR, 7 RBIs; Juan Martinez 3-3, 4 R, 2B, HR, RBI; Gatlin Pate 3-5, 3 R, RBI; Brayden Olsen 2-5, 2 RBIs. Emmanuel: Dustin McNicholl 3-5, HR, 3 RBIs; Kyle Gaura 1-4, 2 RBIs; Jorge Villalabos 2-4, 2 RBIs; Jake Nichols 3-5, 2 2Bs.