by Benny Benton
DUNCAN, S.C. – Barton College dropped a pair of games Sunday on the final day of the Mid-South Classic softball tournament, falling to Tiffin University, 8-2, and UNC Pembroke, 6-2.
The losses dropped Barton to 5-9 on the season and left the Lady Bulldogs without a win over four games in the event at Tyger River Park.
Barton was the final victim of the weekend for Tiffin (5-0), which won five games over three days in the tournament to open its 2018 season. UNCP (12-6) defeated the Lady Bulldogs for the second day in a row after handing BC a 4-3 loss on Saturday.
Freshman Hayley Grizzle had at least one hit in each game and went 3-for-7 overall on the day with a run scored and an RBI to pace BC.
Game 1 – Tiffin 8, Barton 2
Tiffin banged out 11 hits in the contest while holding the Lady Bulldogs to just four. Even when it had opportunities, Barton could not capitalize on them, leaving the bases loaded twice and stranding a total of nine runners in the game.
BC loaded the bases in the bottom of the first when Ashton Pegram drew a leadoff walk, Taylor Martin beat out a bunt single, and Sierra Hearp reached by being hit with a pitch. Grizzle followed with a line drive to center, but it was caught for the final out of the inning.
The Dragons then grabbed the lead in the top of the second. Amanda Rock and Lindsay Graves both singled to right-center off Barton starter Makayla Meeks (0-1), and Rock scored following an errant relay throw on Graves' hit. Graves advanced to third on the error and later scored on a wild pitch, giving Tiffin a 2-0 advantage.
TU increased its lead to 3-0 in the third when Sierra Besser-Paul scored all the way from first base on a single to right field off the bat of Hayley Kobie. The Dragons threatened for more, but reliever Jordan Blake got a pop-up from Graves to end the inning and strand a pair of runners.
Tiffin blew the game open with a four-run fourth inning produced on five hits, including four in a row to begin the inning off Blake. Besser-Paul capped the big inning with a two-run double after Pegram took the mound in relief.
Pegram was effective over the rest of her outing, getting all three outs in the fourth and then giving up just one run on two hits the rest of the game.
Barton scored both of its runs in the fourth, using a fielding error and four walks, the last one to Samantha Santmyers with the bases-loaded, to bring in two runs. BC still had the bases loaded after the walk to Santmyers, but Tiffany Snell (3-0) took over the pitching duties and retired Pegram by strikeout and Blake by lineout to end the inning.
Four different BC players accounted for the team's four hits. Jamie Sevenish had two hits for the Dragons.
Game 2 – UNC Pembroke 6, Barton 2
For the second day in a row, Barton and UNCP locked in a tight battle early.
The Braves grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Alyssa Price drew a one-out walk from BC starter Teagan Crosby (1-2), Jamie Johnson doubled to left-center, and cleanup hitter Alex Watkins dropped down a sacrifice bunt to bring in the run.
However, Barton tied the game right back in the bottom of the frame as Hearp delivered a leadoff single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brittany Jacobs and scored on a single to right-center by Grizzle.
UNCP threatened again in the second inning when it loaded the bases on two walks and a single, but Crosby retired Haleigh Epperson on an infield pop-up to end the inning and strand the three runners.
The Braves took the lead for good in the third inning when Gerhart drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored on a single to left-center by Watkins.
UNC Pembroke increased its advantage to 3-1 in the top of the fifth inning on a two-out, bases-loaded passed ball. The Braves had filled the bases using an infield single, a Barton error and a hit batsman.
Barton got the run back in the bottom of the frame, as Hearp doubled to left-center with one out, moved to third on a single by Hannah Jones and scored on a bunt single by Jacobs. Martin produced an infield single to reload the bases with two outs, but Malerie Leviner (4-2) retired Nohealani Burden on a lineout to first to help UNCP preserve the 3-2 lead.
An error, an infield single and a hit batsman issued by reliever Hearp in the sixth loaded the bases for the Braves, and Johnson delivered a two-out, two-run single to right-center to increase UNC Pembroke's lead to 5-2. UNCP added one more run in the seventh on a Toni Nelson RBI single that scored Bailey Hoch, who had reached base on a two-out walk.
Leviner went the distance for the Braves, allowing nine hits but just one earned run. She walked two and struck out six in the win.
Barton will return home to host Saint Augustine's University in a doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 1 p.m.