by Doug Page
CENTRAL, S.C. – A three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning from Julio Justo would be all the offense that Southern Wesleyan University would need on Saturday as the Warriors bested the Barton College Bulldogs 11-2 at Connor Field in Conference Carolinas action.
Barton (10-27, 2-13) tried to get things going offensively early in the contest but would strand a pair of runners in the top of the second inning en route to leaving six runners on base overall. Southern Wesleyan (14-22, 3-15) took advantage of a fielding error by the Bulldogs with two outs in the third inning and gain early momentum against BC.
Freshman Mason Cooper capped the series with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate for the Bulldogs, while junior Ricks Dearing and junior Gatlin Pate recorded one hit apiece for BC. One day after seeing his 12-game hitting streak come to an end, junior Troy Maslowski tallied a hit and was responsible for a run batted in, while freshman Garrett Giddens went 1-for-3 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored.
Justo finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored for the Warriors, while John Garrett tallied a three-hit day in the lead-off spot for SWU. Quinton Bent recorded a pair of hits at the plate for Southern Wesleyan while scoring a pair of runs and plating one.
Barton freshman Alex Hart would be tested early by the SWU offense as the Warriors notched two consecutive one-out singles in the bottom of the second inning. Hart responded by fanning Devin Patrick and getting Steven Perez to groundout to the shortstop.
The Warriors scored the first runs of the contest in the bottom of the third inning as Justo came to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs in the frame. Hart looked to work past the defensive miscue by the Bulldogs, but Justo would have other plans as he delivered his second home run of the series to give SWU a 3-0 lead.
Southern Wesleyan increased its lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning as Justo scored from third base on a passed Ball with two outs in the frame. BC put a pair of runners on base against SWU starter TJ McEvilly in the top of the sixth inning as freshman Hunter Little got things going with a one-out walk. Pate followed with a double down the left field line that would advance Little to third. McEvilly escaped any damage in the frame by fanning freshman Colby Warren and getting a groundout from Cooper.
The Bulldogs would break through offensively against McEvilly in the seventh inning as Giddens singled to center field to plate Dearing. Maslowski trimmed the deficit to 5-2 for BC with his second triple of the season as the ball eluded the right fielder and allowed Giddens to score from first base.
The three-run gap would be short-lived as SWU quickly answered with four runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Noah Fritz delivered a pinch-hit RBI single for the Warriors to up their lead to 7-2 in the frame, while two more runs would cross the plate to give SWU a 9-2 edge. The Warriors capped their scoring in the bottom of the eighth inning as Bent delivered a run-scoring double to right field along with an RBI groundout from Conner Ewing.
McEvilly (4-3) tossed eight innings and limited the BC offense to six hits and two runs in earning the victory for SWU. Aaron Bennett tossed a clean top of the ninth inning for the Warriors by striking out the side in order. Hart (0-5) suffered the loss for the Bulldogs after allowing five runs (two earned) on six hits. Hart walked four batters while fanning four batters for BC.
The Bulldogs head to Murfreesboro, N.C. for a non-conference matchup against Chowan University on Tuesday beginning at 2 p.m. Barton returns home to open a three-game series against league member Emmanuel College on Friday at 2:30 p.m.