by Doug Page
DUE WEST, S.C. – The Barton College Bulldogs dropped a pair of games on Friday against the Erskine College Flying Fleet in Conference Carolinas baseball action. The Flying Fleet scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to secure a 9-5 victory in game one and tallied three first-inning runs en route to a 5-1 win in game two.
Barton (9-19, 1-7) closed the gap in the first game to 4-3 following back-to-back home runs from junior Gatlin Pate and junior Troy Maslowski but saw the Flying Fleet score five unanswered runs to take a 9-3 lead heading to the eighth inning. Erskine used a pair of big first innings to set the tempo in the twin bill against BC as the Flying Fleet plated four runs to start the first game and followed by tallying three runs in the first inning of game two.
Pate finished the day 4-for-8 at the plate with one run batted in and one run scored, while freshman Colby Warren hit a pair of home runs in game one and finished 3-for-6 at the plate. Freshman Tate Proctor connected on a home run in the opening game for the Bulldogs and went 3-for-5 at the plate with one run scored, while junior Ricks Dearing recorded a pair of hits for Barton.
Erskine started the scoring by delivering a home run off a 0-1 pitch against junior starter Dylan Ward in the bottom of the first inning. The Flying Fleet doubled their lead to 2-0 with a double to left field and later increased the edge to 3-0 with an RBI groundout to second. A single up the middle would cap the scoring in the bottom of the first inning as Erskine took a 4-0 advantage to the second frame.
Warren got things going for BC with a home run to center field on the first pitch of his at-bat in the top of the second inning. In the third, Pate and Maslowski would go back-to-back to cut the Erskine lead to 4-3. The Flying Fleet gained some insurance runs against Ward and the Bulldogs by recording a run in both the third and sixth inning to increase their lead to 6-3. A pair of bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the seventh inning would put the game out of reach for BC as Erskine upped its lead to 8-3. A fielder's choice groundout would plate another run in the frame to give the Flying Fleet a 9-3 lead heading into the eighth inning.
Two more home runs would come from Barton bats in the eighth as Warren smacked his second of the game to center field, while Proctor sent his over the center field wall to trim the deficit to 9-5. Barton would be unable to pull any closer in the top of the ninth inning as Erskine took the opening game of the twin bill.
The Flying Fleet capitalized on an error by the Bulldogs to eventually take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of game two as a single through the left side allowed an unearned run to score. Senior starter Trent Fennell saw the Flying Fleet take a 2-0 lead later in the frame as a sacrifice fly plated a runner from third base. A single up the middle off a 2-2 pitch would give Erskine a 3-0 edge.
Fennell would settle in for Barton and give the Bulldogs a chance to make a comeback in the contest. Freshman Mason Cooper got BC onto the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning as he plated freshman Hunter Little to cut the deficit to 5-1.
Erskine would plate a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead as a stolen base and wild pitch coupled with a throwing error by Barton allowed the runner to score from first on the same play. The Flying Fleet would chase Fennell from the game in the bottom of the sixth inning as a run-scoring single up the middle made it a 5-1 Erskine lead.
Ward and Fennell would each suffer losses for BC as Fennell allowed just two earned runs off six hits over five innings of work. Fennell also fanned four batters, while Ward tallied eight strikeouts over six innings of work in game one. Junior Ryan Pifer and freshman Alex Hart each tossed a scoreless inning of relief for Barton.
The Bulldogs wrap up their three-game series against the Flying Fleet with a 12 p.m. start on Saturday in Due West, S.C.