by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – Behind the strength of timely hits and nine different pitcher's tossing one inning each, the Barton College baseball team handed Winston-Salem State University a 10-5 defeat on Tuesday at Nixon Field.
The Bulldogs (6-8) scored three runs in both the second and eighth innings while tallying four in the fourth to snap a three-game winning streak for the Rams. Winston-Salem (4-5) caught some tough breaks defensively despite plating four runs in the top of the fifth inning to pull within two runs of BC at the time.
Barton was paced offensively by a pair of hits from junior Gatlin Pate, who had a 2-for-5 day at the plate with one run batted in. Freshman Colby Warren hit his team-leading second home run of the season in the bottom of the second inning as he went 1-for-3 on the day with two RBI. Warren drove a 1-1 pitch to right-center off Rams starter Landon Biggs to give BC a 1-0 lead. Senior Rich Trifaro delivered a two-RBI single for Barton in his lone at-bat of the day in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Randy Norris finished 2-for-4 at the plate in the lead-off spot for the Rams, while Michael Murphy went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Rashad Stewart and Nick Williams each recorded a hit for Winston-Salem and tallied one RBI apiece. Three other Rams also recorded a hit at the plate.
The Bulldogs upped their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning as freshman Tate Proctor scored from third on a fielding error by the Winston-Salem third baseman. Freshman Zach Long would later score from third as Biggs was charged with a balk, giving BC a 3-0 advantage.
Junior Dylan Ward got the start for Barton and would allow one hit along with recording a strikeout in his inning of work. Freshman Clay Walters followed Ward with a scoreless inning of his own as he worked a 1-2-3 frame. Another freshman, Alex Hart, worked around a walk to keep the Rams off the scoreboard through three innings of play.
Winston-Salem spoiled the shutout with a single run in the fourth inning against freshman Austin Lee. The Rams tallied three hits in the frame to jumpstart their offense. Holding a 3-1 advantage, Barton chased Biggs from the game as the Rams called upon Josh Larson to avoid any further damage. Proctor made it 4-1 by scoring from third on a wild pitch from Larson.
Another pitching change would follow for the Rams after Larson hit back-to-back batters to load the bases. Pate gave BC a 5-1 lead with a single into left field on the first pitch of the at-bat. The Rams gave Barton a freebie with the bases loaded as Warren worked a walk to make it 6-1. Sophomore catcher Noah Almond rounded out the scoring in the frame by scoring on a passed ball to give the Bulldogs a six-run advantage.
Junior Ryan Pifer was tasked with tossing the top of the fifth inning for BC as the Rams exploded for four runs in the frame. After cutting the deficit to 7-3, Winston-Salem tallied a pair of runs on an error by the Bulldogs as they tried to turn a double-play. Pifer would get out of the inning with a two-run lead intact for the Bulldogs.
The score held until the bottom of the eighth inning as Barton recorded a three-spot to add some insurance on the scoreboard. Winston-Salem made a pitching change following a lead-off walk to Almond as the Raleigh, N.C. native reached base for the third consecutive time in the game. With a new pitcher on the mound for the Rams, Pate greeted Tyrese Hearst with a double to left field. The Bulldogs scored their second run of the day on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 8-5. Trifaro then laced a single through the right-side to allow Pate and Warren to score.
Leading 10-5, Warren took over on the mound for freshman Mason Cooper to start the ninth inning. Cooper surrendered a one-out single to Brandon Ford but would work out of trouble by getting a fly-ball and grounder to short to end the game.
Walters (1-1) earned his first win of the season for Barton after tossing a scoreless second inning. Junior Chase Long and sophomore Landry Moore each tossed a scoreless frame for the Bulldogs in the sixth and seventh innings. Biggs (0-1) was handed with the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) on three hits. Biggs surrendered just two walks on the day and tallied seven strikeouts. Reliever Kyle Taylor worked 2.2 scoreless innings for Winston-Salem and fanned five batters in the process.
Barton opens Conference Carolinas play this weekend with a three-game series against King University. The Bulldogs and Tornado will play one game on Feb. 23 beginning at 2:30 p.m. and conclude the series with a doubleheader on Feb. 24 beginning at 12 p.m.