CLINTON, S.C. – A ninth-inning rally that saw two hits and a walk-off error lifted the Presbyterian College baseball team lifted to a series-opening victory against Gardner-Webb on Friday afternoon, 4-3.
PC improves to 21-28 on the year and 8-12 in Big South Conference play. Gardner-Webb falls to 27-23 and 9-10 in league action.
Down by one in the bottom of the ninth, PC loaded the bases and a Runnin’ Bulldog error gave the Blue Hose the win.
Nate Chong (Duluth, Ga.) took a pitch to the ribs with one out and Billy Motroni (Goose Creek, S.C.) hit a two-out single to put two aboard. Andrew Williams (Augusta, Ga.) followed with a sharply hit ball back to the pitcher to load the bases full of Blue Hose. Gardner-Webb then called in closer Adam Izokovic to face Gabe Grammer (Irmo, S.C.). The PC centerfielder slapped an 0-1 offering to shortstop Ryan Hodge, whose throw to second base for the force flew high off of Scott Johnson’s glove and PC celebrated a 4-3 victory.
The win snaps a five-game Blue Hose losing streak against the Runnin’ Bulldogs and marks the second time PC has won this season when trailing after the eighth inning.
Michael Ricchi (McKinney, Texas) entered the game in the eighth and pitched one and one-third innings of hitless ball to grab his first career win. Chad Sanders (St. Simons Island, Ga.) delivered a sterling outing in his start, allowing three runs—two earned—and six hits in seven and one-third innings. Sanders allowed only one unearned run and four hits through the first seven innings.
Motroni went 3-for-4 to lead PC while Chong drove in two RBI.
Gardner-Webb grabbed its first lead in the eighth inning but PC scored the game’s first run in the second. Aaron Preston (Goose Creek, S.C.) drew a one-out walk to begin the scoring chance and stole second. The rightfielder took third on a groundout before Chong brought him home on PC’s first hit, as Chong legged out a hard-hit ball to second base to give the Blue Hose a 1-0 lead.
Gardner-Webb evened the score in the top of the fourth, using a Blue Hose miscue on an outfield single to bring around an unearned run.
PC loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth, taking advantage of two hits and another Preston walk to fill the bags. Chong then drew three straight balls en route to a run-scoring walk and a 2-1 PC lead, but a 6-4-3 double play ended the frame.
Kenny Bryant made a stellar stop to end a Gardner-Webb opportunity in the fifth. The senior first baseman dove to his left to stop a ball from reaching the outfield before stepping on the bag to leave two Runnin’ Bulldogs stranded and preserve PC’s 2-1 advantage.
Gardner-Webb tied the game again in the top of the eighth. Scott Coleman took second on a double and moved to third on a balk, eventually coming in on a Brad Collins double down the left field line. The play brought in Stewart Curry (Rock Hill, S.C.) to the game for PC with one on and one away. Curry induced a groundout and walked one before Ricchi entered the game and Gardner-Webb stole home to take a 3-2 lead.
Gardner-Webb starter Andrew Barnett went seven innings and allowed two runs on seven hits. Adam McFarland went 2-for-3
The two sides meet in the second game on Saturday at 3 p.m. PC will honor its 13 departing players and seniors prior to the game.
Presbyterian College 4, Gardner-Webb 3 (May 11, 2012 at Clinton, S.C.)
Gardner-Webb........ 000 100 020 - 3 6 1 (27-23, 9-10 BSC)
Presbyterian College 010 100 002 - 4 9 1 (21-28, 8-11 BSC)
Pitchers: Gardner-Webb - BARNETT, Andrew; WARNER, Mitch(8); IZOKOVIC, Adam(9) and HARRIS, John.
Presbyterian College - SANDERS, Chad; CURRY, Stewart(8); RICCHI, Michael(8) and SWAB, Robby.
Win-RICCHI, Michael(1-3) Loss-WARNER, Mitch(6-2) T-2:27 A-102
Weather: Clear and bright, mid-70s
IZOKOVIC, A. faced 1 batter in the 9th.