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BELMONT — After coming close on a few occasions, the Barton College baseball team celebrated a statement win in the opening game of an NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 6-0 lead and hung on to turn back No. 14-ranked (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) Belmont Abbey, 6-5, in the seven-inning opening game.
The Crusaders bounced back in the nine-inning second game to prevail 7-3 and win the series two games to one.
Barton departed for the final week of the regular season with a 4-16 conference record and 12-32 overall record with four games remaining.
The split dropped Belmont Abbey from second place to third in the conference at 16-4. The Crusaders possess a 33-9 overall record.
The Bulldogs barked to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Junior Troy Maslowski doubled and came home on freshman Colby Warren’s single. A throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, two wild pitches and a walk to sophomore Chase Riker set the stage for freshman Alec Seaton’s two-run single along the left-field line.
Barton’s lead became 4-0 in the fourth. Riker singled up the middle, advanced to second on a wild pitch and, with two outs, trotted home on freshman Hunter Little’s double.
In the fifth, Maslowski singled and Warren followed with a home run to left-center field. The Bulldogs owned a 6-0 cushion.
Ace Barton senior right-handed pitcher Trent Fennell blanked the Crusaders through four innings.
But Belmont Abbey got two runs back in its half of the fifth.
Barton freshman right-hander Clay Walters relieved Fennell in the sixth, and the Crusaders axed the deficit to 6-4 on Jakob Rolly’s two-run homer. After a hit batter, Chase Long, a junior right-hander from Hunt High, was summoned to the mound for the Bulldogs. Long delivered a wild pitch and issued two walks before getting an inning-ending double play.
More trouble awaited Long in the bottom of the seventh. Luke Cureton greeted him with a homer that left the Bulldogs clinging to a 6-5 edge. But after a walk, Long retired the next three batters on a bunt attempt, an outfield fly and a strikeout to earn his second save and preserve Fennell’s team-best sixth win against four losses.
However, game 2 saw Belmont Abbey construct a 6-0 lead before the Bulldogs struck for their three runs in the top of the fifth inning.
Little, Riker and junior Gatlin Pate each scored for Barton. Pate doubled in two runs and Maslowski singled in the third.
But Belmont Abbey touched up four Barton pitchers for 13 hits. Starting freshman pitcher Alex Hart (0-7) took the loss for Barton.
The Bulldogs end the first season of head coach Jim Chester with a nonconference test at Catawba on Tuesday and a three-game league series against first-place and nationally No. 4-ranked North Greenville University next Friday and Saturday. A doubleheader is scheduled in Fleming Stadium on Friday evening, followed by a single game at Barton’s Nixon Field on Saturday.
Score by innings:
WP-Trent Fennell (6-4) 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 SO. LP-Griffin Baker (3-1) 3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO S- Chase Long (2) 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Troy Maslowski 3-4, 2 R, 2B; Colby Warren 2-4, 3 RBI, 2 R, HR; Alec Seaton 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Belmont Abbey: Luke Cureton 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Jakob Rolly 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R; A.J. Hendricks 1-2, 2B, RBI.
Score by innings:
WP-Robert Frantzis (1-0) 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO. LP-Alex Hart (0-7) 1 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Chase Riker 2-4, Alec Seaton 2-4, Troy Maslowski 1-3, 2B; Gatlin Pate 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Belmont Abbey: Colin Rosenbaum 3-5, 2 2B; Nick Bienlich 2-5, HR; Kevin Elefante 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; A.J. Hendricks 3-5.