BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – The UNC Asheville baseball team’s bats remained hot and the pitching corps was strong for most of the game Thursday night as the Bulldogs topped Gardner-Webb 6-5 in Big South Conference action at John H. Moss Stadium.
The loss was the ninth in a row for the Runnin’ Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb and the win was the third in a row for Asheville. It was also the fourth win in the last five games and fifth in the last seven.
Six different Bulldogs recorded the eight hits led by Joe Tietjen and Brandon Lankford as both registered two hits. Lankford went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three runs batted in while Tietjen went 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
The home Runnin’ Bulldogs (22-28, 9-13 Big South) edged out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but the lead didn’t last long as the visiting Bulldogs (23-28, 11-11 Big South) in blue put up five runs in the top of the third.
Seniors Justin Woods and Kyle Carruthers hit back-to-back RBIs, including a double by Woods that scored fellow senior Tietjen all the way from first to cut into the deficit. Carruthers’ single moved Woods across the dish to knot the score at two-all.
After freshman Tyler Serricchio reached on a fielding error by the Gardner-Webb third baseman, Lankford ripped his eighth home run of the season, a two-out, three-run bomb over the fence in left field to put the Bulldogs in blue a 5-2 lead. The three runs batted in gave Lankford 41 for the season.
Tietjen and Carruthers joined forces in the top of the seventh to extend UNC Asheville’s lead out to four, 6-2. Tietjen doubled to center field and then stole his 19thbag of the season and 42nd of his career, setting up Carruthers with just one out. Carruthers sent a ball to deep right field, allowing Tietjen to tag up and score.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Runnin’ Bulldogs got a run back off a sac fly to set the score at 6-3 and appeared to be ready to cut further into the lead in the bottom of the eighth as they put two runners on with no outs. However, Kole Harris came on to record the next three outs and got Asheville out of the jam.
Gardner-Webb then scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the go-ahead run on first, but Harris and the Bulldog defense shut the threat down to register the 23rd win on the year.
Blake Brown (W, 1-1) earned his first collegiate win, pitching three innings that saw him give up no hits or runs while striking out three batters. Greg Gasparrostarted the game and pitched the first two innings. Harris (S, 3) pitched the final two innings and earned his third save of the year.
For Gardner-Webb, Bradley Hallman (L, 3-6) pitched the first six innings in a losing effort.
TURNING DOUBLE PLAYS: The Bulldogs turned a double play Thursday evening in the first inning against Gardner-Webb. It was the 45th on the year giving UNC Asheville 12 more than last season. The 2015 Bulldogs turned 57 double plays while the 2014 ‘Dogs rolled up 35. The Bulldogs are currently third in the Big South Conference for double plays behind Campbell and Liberty.
SWIPING ANOTHER BASE: Joe Tietjen stole his 19th base of the season and 42nd of his career in the top of the seventh. He needs just three more stolen bases to move into fourth for bases swiped in a career and one more to tie fourth for bases stolen in a single season.
LANKFORD AND EXTRA BASES: Brandon Lankford had two hits go for extra bases Thursday evening. His home run in the top of the third was his team-leading eighth. He then ripped his 15th double of the season in the top of the eighth. His 15 doubles also leads the team.
BATTING RUNS IN: Brandon Lankford recorded three runs batted in on the year giving him 41 for the season. His 41 RBIs leads the team.
The two Bulldog squads will continue the series tomorrow, Friday, May 19, with a 6 p.m. game in Boiling Springs at Bill Masters Field. The series will conclude on Saturday, May 20, with a 2 p.m. first pitch.
“This was a good Thursday win in conference for us. Everyone contributed offensively with quality at-bats. We did just enough on the mound to keep a very good team off balance and we played another clean game defensively. This one’s over and now we have to repeat that efforttomorrow.” – Scott Friedholm
Story Credit: UNCA