Asheville Opens Big South Play With 3-2 Over Gardner-Webb
Gardner-Webb (12-4, 0-1 Big South) trailed 3-0 going into the eighth, but got a two-run double from Jake Watts with the bases loaded to get back in the game. With runners at second and third, the 'Dogs attempted a squeeze bunt, but the pitch got past the bat and Daniel Merck was tagged out at home for the second out. The next pitch produced a ground out to end the inning.
UNC Asheville (6-10, 1-0 Big South) would hold on from there, as reliever David Ricker pitched around a walk with three strikeouts in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season.
Asheville starter Ryan Dull (1-1) was masterful through 7.0 innings, fanning nine and scattering three hits with no runs allowed. He retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced. His effort paced a pitching performance that recorded 13 strikeouts (six looking) and just three walks on Friday night.
Gardner-Webb starter Brandon Boling (1-1) took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on just three hits in 4.2 innings of work. The sophomore righty walked five and uncorked three wild pitches in a tough outing.
UNC Asheville managed just four hits in the game - all singles - and scored its first run without benefit of a base knock. Patrick Koontz led off with a walk in the fourth, but was retired on a fielder's choice that put Danny Baatz at first with one out. Baatz swiped second, moved to third on a balk and Ian Graham earned a walk to put a pair on board with two outs. A routine ground ball that would have ended the inning was thrown away with Cody Buch at the plate, allowing Baatz to trot home easily for a 1-0 lead.
Asheville added two more runs in the fifth, with an errant throw on a potential double play ball with one out allowing Eli Miller to score and give the visitors a 2-0 lead. Robert McIntosh then moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch to chase Boling from the game with the 'Dogs down 3-0.
Emilio Pagan came on to get out of the jam, and worked the rest of the way impressively to keep Gardner-Webb within striking distance. Pagan fanned six and walked one (one hit allowed) in 4.1 innings out of the pen.
John Harris got things started in the eighth for Gardner-Webb, doubling down the right field line off of reliever Matthew Pate with one out. A walk to Danny Yelverton and a Daniel Merck single loaded the bases, and Watts won a left-lefty matchup with Klint Davis - smacking his two-run double to the opposite field to trim the lead to 3-2.
Gardner-Webb managed six hits, with Watts (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) leading the way. Merck, Aaron Miller, Adam McFarland and Harris had the other hits for GWU.
UNC Asheville got two singles from Robert McIntosh (2-for-4, run) to pace a four-hit night.
The two teams will get back to action on Saturday at 2:00 pm in John Henry Moss Stadium / Bill Masters Field.