ROCK HILL, SC — The Winthrop bats were stifled by strong starting pitching from Gardner-Webb as the Eagles fell to the Runnin’ Bulldogs 5-1 in Game One of the weekend series at The Winthrop Ballpark.
Gardner-Webb’s sophomore right-hander Matt Fraudin (4-2) was in complete control over the Winthrop offense as he limited the Eagles to just one run on two hits in his complete game gem on the mound. Senior righty Matt Pierpont (2-4) battled strong but a big three-run sixth inning for the Runnin’ Bulldogs was the difference in the game.
Gardner Webb carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth when the Runnin’ Bulldogs took advantage of a bases-loaded, no outs situation against Pierpont. With the bases full of Bulldogs, Pierpont threw a pitch in the dirt that got away from catcher Austin Barber which allowed Scott Coleman to score from third. Gardner-Webb got the big hit in the inning from John Harris on single to left field scoring Henry Rundio and Benji Jackson giving them a 4-0 lead.
Fraudin carried a no-hitter into the seventh, however the Eagles broke up the no-no and the shut out when Jace Whitley led off the inning with a single to right field and was brought around to score on a double to the left field corner by Cody Dolan. That was all that Fraudin would allow as he closed out the game retiring nine straight batters to secure the 5-1 victory.
The loss drops Winthrop to 8-18 on the season and 1-3 in the Big South while Gardner-Webb improves its record to 14-11-1 and 3-4 in the Big South. The teams will return to field Saturday afternoon for a twin-bill starting at 2:00 p.m.
What started out as a classic pitcher’s duel quickly changed in the fourth inning when the Runnin’ Bulldogs got some momentum going their way against Pierpont. The first three hitters reached safely leaving the bases loaded for Brad Collins. Collins worked Pierpont to a full count and eventually drew a walk forcing Coleman in from third and giving Gardner-Webb a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs managed to get their first three hitters abound again in the sixth when they cashed in for three runs highlighted by a two RBI single by Harris. Gardner-Webb added on another run in the seventh on an RBI single to left field by Coleman scoring JJ Nazzaro from second giving them a 5-0 lead.
The Eagles finally reached Fraudin in the bottom half of the seventh when Whitley drove the first pitch of the inning to left field for a single and was brought around to score on a double down the left field line by Dolan. However, Fraudin proved to be too much as he went out to close out the game and wrap up the 5-1 win.
Despite taking the loss, Pierpont battled strong in his seven innings of work as he gave up five runs on ten hits and struck out a season-high 11 batters. Dolan also extended his hitting streak to seven games with his RBI double in the seventh.