by Doug Page
BELMONT, N.C. – The Barton College Bulldogs stunned the nationally-ranked No. 14 Belmont Abbey Crusaders by splitting a Conference Carolinas twin bill on Saturday afternoon in Belmont, N.C. BC used early offense to hold off the Crusaders for a 6-5 win in game one before dropping the second game 7-3.
Barton (12-32, 4-16) defeated the Crusaders for the first time since the 2015-16 season when BC handed Belmont Abbey an 11-0 loss in the first game of a three-game set. Belmont Abbey (33-9, 16-4) attempted a comeback in game one as the Crusaders plated five runs over the final three innings of play.
Freshman Alec Seaton finished the day 4-for-7 at the plate for Barton with a double and two runs batted in. Junior Troy Maslowski went 4-for-7 at the plate with a pair of doubles and one RBI to go along with two runs scored. Sophomore Chase Riker recorded three hits on the day for BC, while freshman Colby Warren hit his team-leading eighth home run of the season to go along with three RBI.
AJ Hendricks and Luke Cureton each finished with four hits on the day for Belmont Abbey, while Cureton delivered a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one. Jakob Jolly tallied three hits for the Crusaders while scoring four runs. Kevin Elefante recorded three hits but delivered a team-high three RBI on the day for Belmont Abbey.
In game one, the Bulldogs tagged Belmont Abbey starter Griffin Baker for three runs in the top of the second inning. Warren opened the scoring for BC by delivering a single to left field to score Maslowski. Seaton upped the Barton lead to 3-0 with a two-run single down the left field line.
Freshman Hunter Little increased the BC lead to 4-0 in the top of the fourth inning with a double to right center to score Riker. Warren capped the Barton scoring with a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning against Belmont Abbey reliever Sam Luchansky.
Senior right-hander Trent Fennell did his best to silence the Crusader bats in game one as he kept BAC off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning. With his offense spotting him a 6-0 lead, Fennell saw the Crusaders get onto the scoreboard with a double to right center off the bat of Hendricks. Following a pair of walks, Cureton singled through the left side to score Nick Beinlich and trim the BC lead to 6-2.
Belmont Abbey cut the deficit to 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning as Rolly connected on a two-run home run off freshman reliever Clay Walters. The Crusaders looked to knot the score later in the frame after loading the bases against Barton junior reliever Chase Long. Long would get Colin Rosenbaum to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Cureton trimmed the gap to 6-5 with a lead-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Crusaders. A one-out walk would put the potential tying run on base for BAC but Long would record the next three outs to secure the victory and record his second save of the season. Fennell (6-4) fanned seven batters through five innings of work, scattering six hits to go along with a pair of runs. Baker (3-1) allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits through 3.2 innings of work. Baker fanned five batters while walking one.
Game two would see the Crusaders strike first as Elefante hit a solo home run off Barton freshman left-hander Alex Hart in the bottom of the second inning. Rosenbaum followed with a run-scoring double to up the BAC lead to 2-0 before Hendricks scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Matt McGarry singled up the middle in the bottom of the third inning to up the Crusaders' lead to 4-0. Elefante increased the BAC lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning with a single through the left side. Barton rallied for three runs against the Crusaders in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs in the frame, junior Gatlin Pate laced a double to right center to plate Little and Riker. Following a pitching change for Belmont Abbey, Maslowski delivered a double of his own to left center to score Pate and trim the deficit to 6-3.
Beinlich connected on his second home run in as many days for the Crusaders in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Crusaders a 7-3 advantage. After allowing the home run in the fifth inning, freshman reliever Austin Lee kept the Crusaders off the scoreboard over the final three innings. Beck Way, Robert Frantzis, and Brady Hill combined to keep Barton scoreless over the final 4.1 innings.
Frantzis (1-0) earned the win for the Crusaders after tossing two scoreless innings of relief. Hart (0-7) allowed three runs off six hits over 1.2 innings of work.
Barton heads to Salisbury, N.C. for a non-conference matchup with Catawba on April 17 at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs close the regular season with a three-game series at home against North Greenville University.