CHARLESTON, S.C. - Gardner-Webb held off a late Charleston Southern rally on Saturday afternoon as the Buccaneers fell in the series finale to the Runnin' Bulldogs, 7-5.
CSU (17-18, 6-9) scored twice in the bottom of the ninth and had the game-winning run at the plate before GWU reliever Jarrett Thompson (S, 2) was able to get the final two outs of the game to secure the Runnin' Bulldogs (18-17, 7-5) win.
Nate Blanchard led off the ninth inning drawing a four-pitch walk and advanced into scoring position on Aaron Miller's single back up the middle. Two batters later Brandon Gragilla sliced a base hit down the left field line allowing Blanchard to score to narrow the GWU lead down to 7-4. Bennett entered the contest and retired Sconzo on an infield fly for the second out.
Kyle Vesnesky kept the CSU rally alive with a RBI single through the right side of the infield scoring Miller to narrow the margin to two. However, the rally fell short as Chris Singleton's drive to straightaway centerfield was caught by GWU's Peyton McGuide to end the contest in favor of the guests.
Wil Hartsell (1-5) suffered the loss for the Bucs after surrendering two runs and three hits over the first 2.2 innings in the contest. Daniel Johnson and Cody Smith combined to strike out seven over the final four innings to keep the Bucs' hopes alive in the loss.
Miller continued to have the hot bat on the weekend with a 4-for-5 performance from the plate. The freshman first baseman connected on his fourth home run of the season and scored two runs in the game to pace the Bucs' offense. Blanchard added a 2-for-4 day at the plate and added his team-leading fifth home run in the bottom of the third inning to put the Bucs on the board.
Landon Mitchell (4-2) picked up his fourth win of the season for the Runnin' Bulldogs going the first 5.1 innings and allowing two runs while striking out five. Thompson allowed Vesnesky's RBI single in the ninth on his way to picking up his second save of the season.
The Runnin' Bulldogs struck first with three runs in the top of the third. Mickey Dugan put the first run across with a two-out RBI single through the left side of the infield. Collin Thacker and Danny Sullivan added back-to-back run-scoring singles in the frame to give GWU the early 3-0 lead.
Blanchard answered for the Bucs in the bottom of the frame with his fifth home run of the season. Alex Andronica was hit by a pitch to put the leadoff man on board and the CSU senior infielder connected on a drive over the right field fence to narrow the lead down to 3-2.
Justin Kunz put three more across the plate for the Runnin' Bulldogs in the top of the fifth inning with a three-run home run over the fence in right centerfield off of CSU reliever Cody Maw. Kunz's drive scored Paul Trick and Dugan to give GWU the 6-2 advantage.
Aaron Miller put one more on the board for the Bucs with a one-out solo home run to left in the bottom of the seventh. His fourth home run of the season narrowed the lead down to 6-3.
Chandler Redmond responded with GWU's final run of the game with a solo shot over the right field fence against Smith.
The Bucs' ninth-inning rally fell short in CSU's final at-bats as the Runnin' Bulldogs closed out the season series.
Charleston Southern is on the road for the next two games as the Bucs travel to The Citadel on Tuesday and USC Upstate on Wednesday before returning home to host Radford next weekend in a three-game series spanning April 21-23. First pitch on Tuesday night at Joe Riley Park is set for 6 p.m.