Barton seniors shine on their day in 19-6 triumph

Bulldogs clinch spot in Conference Carolinas tourney

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Barton College baseball seniors Tyler Garrett, Calvin Hawke, Landon Dunlap, Andrew Webster, Kerry Walker, Shawn Montren, Jacob Willis, Blake Spangenberg, Josh Mims and Justin Evans were treated to a Senior Day to remember on Barton College’s Nixon Field diamond on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

An abundance of team and individual awards were attached to the Bulldogs 19-6 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas blowout of Southern Wesleyan.

Barton completed a sweep of the three-game series and extended its conference winning streak to seven games in climbing to 13-11 in the conference and 28-17 overall.

The sweep enabled the Bulldogs to clinch a berth in the conference tournament in Burlington as the result of Pfeiffer University losing all three games of its weekend series and plunging to 9-15 with three games remaining.

Head coach Josh Simmons’ Barton squad can finish no lower than in a tie for fifth place and moved into a tie for fourth place with Erskine. The Bulldogs, with a final series at second-place North Greenville next weekend, need one win or a Limestone loss to clinch fifth place.

Appropriately, the seniors basked in the sunshine Saturday.

Walker, a right-hander, blanked Southern Wesleyan on two hits through six innings in notching his team-high ninth win against three losses. He issued two walks and struck out five. His offense, which shelled Southern Wesleyan pitching for 19 hits, staked him to a 17-0 bulge after five innings.

“A lot of emotion,” Walker described the afternoon. “This was (the seniors’) last time here on Nixon Field. (The huge lead) was nice — having a lot of run support and good defense. It has been that way for me the last few games.”

Walker has, arguably, developed into Barton’s mound ace the second half of conference play.

“I’m not sure what happened,” he said. “I had a real (slump) the middle of the season. But I kept working and have been better. Today, I felt good and had all of my stuff.”

And benefited from bountiful support from his classmates.

Webster slugged his 20th home run and his 15th double in a 3 for-3 performance. He scored four runs and drove in a pair. His 20 homers lead all NCAA divisions.

Garrett batted 2 for 6 with a triple. Spangenberg continued his late-season tear, going 3 for 5. Montren connected for his third 2017 home run, a two-run shot. Dunlap delivered a two-run double. Willis handled the catching duties. And relief pitchers Mims and Evans each worked an inning.

And how about Hawke?

Batting over .400, Hawke hammered his fifth triple and stole his 23rd base. And the right-hander got to pitch the final inning when Simmons kept his promise to allow him to go to the mound in a late-season game when the score was lopsided. Southern Wesleyan sprayed five hits and scored five runs before Hawke induced a game-ending double play.

Among the underclassmen, sophomore Troy Maslowski concluded a monster series, going 2 for 2 with a double and scoring three runs. Freshman Chase Riker belted a three-run homer and wound up with five RBIs. Sophomore Ricks Dearing rapped a pair of hits and drove in two runs.

The Bulldogs may not have raised as loud a fuss in the conference as had been the preseason objective, but confidence is soaring.

“There’s a lot left in us,” Walker warned. “I don’t think expectations have changed. We still plan to make a run in the tournament and hopefully get to the regional. This team has what it takes. This is not the end of it.”

And as a Barton fan mused: “It’s a great day to be a Bulldog!”