HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team fell to Gardner-Webb by a score of 4-3 on Saturday night at Williard Stadium to even the three-game series at 1-1. HPU had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, butCody Manzella was thrown out at home for the final out of the contest.
“I think that the little things caught up with us once again tonight,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “We had some inopportune double plays offensively and too many freebies on the defensive end. That was the difference in the game. You have to execute in those situations at this point in the season and we didn’t tonight. Now tonight is over with and we have to figure out a way to win the series tomorrow.”
Gardner-Webb got to HPU starter Jamie Schultz for three runs in the top of the second inning to take an early 3-0 lead. The Runnin’ Bulldogs scored the first run on a wild pitch, the second on an RBI groundout by Jacob Walker and the third on an RBI single by Ryan Hodge.
Schultz settled down after the second, retiring 12-straight Gardner-Webb batters to allow High Point to pull back into the game. The Panthers scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Manzella. Sophomore Josh Spano started the inning with a single up the middle and came around to score on the Manzella hit.
Two innings later, High Point tied the game when graduate student Adam Barry hit an RBI double to score two runs, knotting the score at 3-3. With two outs in the inning the Panthers got a single from senior Ryan Retz and a walk by Manzella to bring up Barry. The third baseman hit the firs tpitch he saw off the wall in right to plate both base runners.
Gardner-Webb came right back in the next half inning to retake the lead with another RBI single by Hodge. Danny Yelverton scored the go-ahead run after reaching on fielder’s choice.
The Panthers got the tying run on to lead-off the ninth with a single by Manzella who then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two out in the inning sophomore Dane McDermott hit a single up the middle to seemingly tie the game but GWU center fielder JJ Nazzaro made the throw home just ahead of Manzella for the final out.
Manzella, Barry and McDermott all hit 2-3 in the game for High Point. Barry also had two RBI while Manzella finished with an RBI and a run scored.
Schultz took the loss for High Point, falling to 0-6 on the season. Schultz pitched 7-2/3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits and four walks while striking out eight.
Gardner-Webb starter Andrew Barnett pitched six innings to earn his fourth win of the season for the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Barnett allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out seven.
The loss drops High Point to 25-26 overall and 11-9 in the Big South. Gardner-Webb improves to 25-23-1 overall and 9-10 in the Big South.
HPU and Gardner-Webb will meet to decide the weekend series in the rubber game on Sunday, May 12, at 1 p.m., in Williard Stadium. Redshirt-junior Malcolm Clapsaddle will start on the mound for the Panthers.