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A pair of freshmen used the long ball to help lift the Barton College baseball team to a 13-3, series-clinching victory over Glenville State College in game 1 of Saturday’s scheduled doubleheader at Nixon Field.
However, a complete game from Glenville State right-hander Andrew Hughart prevented the Bulldogs from getting the sweep in the second contest, as Hughart sat down the final 12 Bulldogs he faced in a 7-3 decision.
Barton’s three victories over a two-day span were its first of the season, as the Bulldogs of Conference Carolinas evened their record at 3-3. Glenville State, playing out of the Mountain East Conference, opened its season with the four-game set in Wilson and departed 1-3. Both games were scheduled for seven innings as the Pioneers, in their eighth season of existence, defeated Barton for the first time in 16 meetings by salvaging a Saturday victory.
“We didn’t play extremely well, and they did,” first-year Barton head coach Jim Chester said of the second game. “Overall, I’m happy. We played better this weekend than we did last weekend, so that’s a positive. I’m still fresh on the job, so I’m still learning a lot about our team. Moving forward, I’m just asking all the young men to work hard and let’s just get a little better each week.”
Certainly, Chester is now aware of the potency in some of his young bats, particularly freshmen Mason Cooper and Tate Proctor, who collected a single, double, triple and home run over the course of both games.
Barton produced 13 hits in the opening game of the doubleheader, with Cooper launching a three-run homer to left field in the bottom of the first inning. After junior Ricks Dearing singled and Troy Maslowski walked, Chase Riker reached on an infield error that allowed Dearing to score. Up stepped Cooper, who took a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field for a 4-0 Barton cushion.
Maslowski, who started the second game on the mound before taking a sharp line drive off his shin, finished 3 for 3 in the opener with a pair of runs scored. His second-inning single plated Dearing, who walked, and Barton led 5-0.
Proctor, a product of Corinth Holders High, showcased his bat in both games of the twinbill. He drove in five runs in the opener, going 2 for 3. Proctor’s third-inning single drove in another freshman, Charlie Horne, to put the Bulldogs up 6-1. But the big blow came in a seven-run fourth inning, where Barton amassed six of its hits. Facing Glenville State reliever Jesse Weathers, Proctor unleashed a grand slam to right field, putting the Bulldogs in firm control with a 13-3 advantage.
“I felt like I was seeing it a lot better than I have been,” Proctor said. “I feel like we should have won that last game, but it’s always tough to beat somebody four times in a row.”
Freshman right-hander Kendrick Creasey started for Barton and allowed six hits over 3 1/3 innings. He picked up the win, striking out two and walking five. Sophomore Landry Moore entered in a tough relief spot for the Bulldogs shortly after Christian Hedinger’s two-run infield chopper in the fourth trimmed Barton’s deficit to 6-3. Yet with the bases loaded, Moore struck out Zach Bacon and got Logan Henderson to fly out to left field to limit the damage.
Hedinger was 2 for 4 to lead the Pioneers in the opening game. For Barton, junior Gatlin Pate was 2 for 4.
The Bulldogs were held to just five hits by Hughart in the finale, two from Proctor. His two-out double in the second started Barton’s climb out of an early 2-0 deficit. Redshirt freshman catcher Danny Rodriguez chopped an infield single to plate Proctor, and Maslowski’s two-run single sent Barton up 3-2.
However, Maslowski ran into painful trouble in the fourth. After giving up a leadoff double, Shane Talvacchio hit a sharp line drive that deflected off the shin of Maslowski. The junior recovered to record the putout at first base, but immediately went to the ground in pain. He attempted to throw a warmup pitch, but grimaced noticeably and could not continue, yielding to freshman southpaw Alex Hart.
“He’s a freshman,” Chester said of Hart. “And that happens. You get hit when you’re a freshman. We haven’t lost any confidence in him; we’re going to go right back to him. That probably changed the pace, but you’ve got to credit (Hughart). He did a great job and kept us off balance all game.”
Glenville State tied it on Jordan Braniff’s RBI groundout and seized the lead for keeps in the fifth off Hart. Tyler Phillips laced a run-scoring double to the gap in left center, with shortstop Logan Henderson immediately following with a three-run shot to left.
Proctor was Barton’s last bastion of offense against Hughart in the fourth, leading off with a triple to complete his two-game cycle. But he was stranded there after three consecutive Bulldogs failed to reach. Rodriguez had an infield chopper taken away by Talvacchio’s leaping snag at third with one out.
Hughart, a junior-college transfer, struck out seven and walked three and struck out the side in the seventh. He retired five of the final six Barton hitters he faced via strikeout, requiring 87 pitches.
Hart took the loss in relief, touched up for six hits in 1 2/3 innings. All four of his runs allowed were earned after Maslowski departed with the no-decision.
Bryan Bayliss was 3 for 4 with a double for Glenville State in game two, while Hedinger and Jarvis were each 2 for 3. Jarvis doubled. Proctor was the only Bulldog with multiple hits against Hughart.
The Bulldogs will face Lenoir-Rhyne in a rescheduled doubleheader at Asheboro’s McCrary Park on Tuesday, beginning at 1 p.m.