by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College Bulldogs rallied late in both games on Saturday before dropping both ends of a doubleheader against nationally-ranked No. 19 Mount Olive at Nixon Field. The Trojans recorded a 7-6 victory in the first game and completed the sweep with an 8-7 win in game two.
Barton (7-14, 1-5) allowed early runs in both games before scoring runs late against the Mount Olive bullpen. The Bulldogs tallied 15 hits in the second game against the Trojans but stranded nine runners on base in the contest. Mount Olive (13-3, 3-0) would score in the top of the seventh inning in game one and the top of the ninth inning in game two to secure both victories on the day.
Senior Rich Trifaro capped his series against the Trojans with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate between the two games. The Long Island, N.Y. native recorded one double while scoring two runs to go along with three runs batted in for the Bulldogs. Junior Troy Maslowski recorded five hits on the day for BC with a pair of doubles to go along with two RBI and one run scored. Freshman Hunter Little, junior Gatlin Pate, and freshman Colby Warren each tallied three hits in the game for Barton. Little scored four runs on the day for Barton, while Pate delivered the game-tying single in the bottom of the sixth inning of game one.
The Trojans started the scoring in the top of the first inning of game one against BC starter Trent Fennell. The senior for the Bulldogs saw Mount Olive take a 1-0 lead off a run-scoring triple from Nate Estes. Drew Ellis upped the lead to 2-0 for the Trojans with a groundout to second before Fennell ended the inning with a strikeout.
Barton had a chance to cut into the lead in the bottom of the frame as Maslowski laced a double down the left field line but would be stranded following a groundout and strikeout from Trojans starter Braxton Shetley. Mount Olive stretched its lead to 6-0 in the top of the second inning as three singles from three of the first four batters produced a run to make it 3-0. Trae Sweeting highlighted in the frame with a two-RBI triple down the right-field line to make it 5-0.
Fennell settled in on the mound for BC heading into the third inning and would silence the Mount Olive offense before exiting the game to start the sixth inning. Barton cut the Trojans lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Bulldogs loaded the bases against Shetley. BC scored all four runs in the frame without having to put the bat on the ball as three walks and a hit batter produced the runs for the Bulldogs. Zach Vennaro took over for Shetley with the bases loaded and two outs and would leave them that way as Pate hit a fly ball to right field.
Barton rallied against Vennaro in the sixth frame as Trifaro and freshman Tate Proctor gave the Bulldogs a pair of one-out runners. With two outs in the frame, Maslowski delivered a single to right field to plate Trifaro and cut the deficit to 6-5. Pate followed with a single through the left side to score Proctor and knot the score 6-6. Barton would leave a pair of runners on base as Vennaro got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Sophomore Landry Moore would surrender a run to the Trojans in the top of the seventh inning as Mount Olive took a 7-6 lead on a fielding error that allowed a runner to score from third. Mount Olive would eventually load the bases before Moore got a fly ball to left field to end the frame and give the BC offense another shot at tying the score. Barton left the potential tying run on first after Warren delivered a two-out single for BC. Freshman Mason Cooper grounded out to the second baseman to preserve the 7-6 win for the Trojans.
Game two started much like the first as Mount Olive plated three runs in the top of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. Estes highlighted the frame with a two-run triple off Barton starter Dylan Ward. The junior right-hander stranded one runner on base for the Trojans to bring the Barton offense to the plate. The Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to 3-1 as Trifaro singled through the right side to score Little.
Mount Olive tagged Ward for two more runs in the top of the third as the Trojans recorded a pair of run-scoring singles to right field. Trailing 5-1, Barton added a run in the bottom of the fourth inning against the starter Reed Parris. The Bulldogs loaded the bases as Warren and Trifaro delivered consecutive hits after a walk to Little to start the frame. Redshirt freshman catcher Danny Rodriguez singled to left field to plate Little and make it 5-2. Following a pitching change by the Trojans, freshman Garrett Giddens grounded into an inning-ending double play.
After taking a 6-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning, freshman Clay Walters kept Barton in the game by working 3.1 scoreless innings of relief. The work by Walters allowed Barton to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Trojan bullpen. Little and Warren started the rally with back-to-back singles up the middle with one out on the scoreboard. After both runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, redshirt sophomore Lane Olive delivered a pinch-hit two-RBI single to left field to make it 6-4.
Trifaro cut the Mount Olive lead to 6-5 with a double to right field on a 1-0 pitch. Trifaro advanced to third on a wild pitch and later saw freshman Mason Cooper work a walk to put runners on the corners. With runners on second and third, Giddens came through with an RBI groundout to second to knot the score 6-6. The Bulldogs looked to take a lead as Cooper broke for home on a wild pitch but would be called out at home as the pitcher covered the plate on a quick throw from the catcher.
Mount Olive scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning against Warren to take an 8-6 lead off a pair of singles. The Bulldogs rallied again in the bottom of the frame as Little singled to center field to plate Maslowski from second. With runners on first and second and one out, Trojan reliever German Reyes got consecutive strikeouts to end the game and complete the sweep with the 8-7 victory.
Barton hosts Francis Marion University on Tuesday (Mar. 6) for a single game at Nixon Field beginning at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs then host Mercyhurst University on Thursday (Mar. 8) at 2:30 p.m.