BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Gardner-Webb starter Andrew Barnett finished two shy of the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ single-game record for strikeouts, fanning 14 batters to lead GWU to a 5-1 win over UNC Asheville Saturday in Big South Conference play.
Barnett (3-2) scattered seven singles, allowed one run and didn’t issue a walk in 8.0 innings of sharp mound work. The High Point, N.C., junior struck out the side in the first and the sixth and fanned at least one batter in each inning he appeared. It was the second week in a row that Barnett lasted at least 8.0 innings, and the third time this season.
Jeff Howell came on to strikeout the side in the top of the ninth to close out the game.
Gardner-Webb (22-21-1, 8-9 Big South) scored single runs in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to slowly create some cushion against the visiting Bulldogs (15-30, 3-14 Big South).
Brad Collins led off the second with a bloop double into right – his league-leading 21st of the season – and Henry Rundio put Gardner-Webb on top for good with a single to right. Scott Coleman parked a line drive home run with one out in the third for a 2-0 lead, before Asheville rallied for a run with three hits in the top of the fourth.
Eli Miller delivered the run for Asheville, getting an RBI knock through the left side to drive home Billy Creighton.
Rundio laced another single to right with one out in the bottom of the fourth, moved to third on a single from Jacob Walker and scored on Ryan Hodge’s RBI fielder’s choice to put Gardner-Webb up 3-1. Scott Johnson led off the fifth with a single up the middle and Collins reached on a single with one out. Both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, and John Harris put GWU up 4-1 with an RBI groundout.
JJ Nazzaro drove home Walker with a sacrifice fly in the sixth for the final margin.
Gardner-Webb had nine hits in the game, with Johnson (2-for-5, run), Coleman (2-for-4, HR, run, RBI), Collins (2-for-4, 2B, run) and Rundio (2-for-4, run, RBI) powering that effort.
UNC Asheville starter Dean Roland (2-7) was touched for all five runs and nine hits, hurling 6.0 innings with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. Justin Hunt and Andrew Kirkland came on to finish the game for the Bulldogs.
Joyner (2-for-4) paced Asheville’s offense on Saturday with a pair of singles, his third and fourth of the series so far.
The two teams were slated to play two games today, but game two was washed out due to inclement weather in the Boiling Springs area. Game three of the series is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.