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FLORENCE, S.C. — The era of new head coach Jim Chester debuted Thursday evening with the Barton College baseball team dropping a 9-8 decision to Southern Wesleyan University in the Carolinas Hospital Systems Classic.
The teams are members of the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas, but the contest did not count in the league standings.
After leading 3-2 after three innings, the Bulldogs attempted to overcome a 6-3 deficit going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Barton, designated as the home team, struck for a run in the bottom of the seventh.
However, Southern Wesleyan answered with two runs in the top of the eighth.
The Bulldogs’ three-run spree in the bottom of the eighth cut the deficit to 8-7. Southern Wesleyan added an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Barton’s rally the bottom half of the inning came up a run short.
Barton outhit Southern Wesleyan 15-12 and each team committed three errors. The Bulldogs allowed four unearned runs as compared to one for Southern Wesleyan.
Triggering the Bulldogs offense were designated hitter Chase Riker at 3 for 4 with two runs batted in, and second baseman Ricks Dearing at 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Right fielder Troy Maslowski and center fielder Hunter Little each collected two hits. Dearing doubled twice.
Starting Barton pitcher Trent Fennell, a right-hander and all-conference performer last season, took the loss.
In five innings, Fennell allowed seven hits, six runs (five earned) and three walks while striking out 10.
Landry Moore, Ryan Pifer and Chase Long followed Fennell to the mound.
Moore worked two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out three. Barton pitchers registered 15 strikeouts.
Starting Southern Wesleyan pitcher T.J. McEvilly picked up the win. In six innings, McEvilly spaced seven hits and two walks and allowed three runs (two earned). He struck out nine.
Barton opposes Lenoir-Rhyne at 5 p.m. Friday in its second Systems Classic test.