Gardner-Webb falls in savage Big South Conference battle with Campbell on Sunday

BOILING SPRINGS – Trevor Mattson hit a pair of home runs for Gardner-Webb on Sunday, but Campbell scored three times in the top of the ninth to escape with a 10-9 win over the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Gardner-Webb (10-19, 1-5 Big South) led 9-5 after a four-point flurry in the sixth, but the Camels tackled a pair in the seventh and used some good fortune in the ninth to take the lead for good .

Campbell (15-12, 5-1 Big South) used the long ball to take a 4-0 lead in four innings. Jarrod Belbin started the game with a long solo shot to right center and Lawson Harrill opened the fourth with a solo bomb to left center to give the Camels a 2-0 lead.

After a pair of two-out singles, Drake Pierson hammered a fastball deep to left center to give the Camels a 4-0 lead. It was Pierson’s second home run in the series. Gardner-Webb went to Michael Portella after that shot and the veteran right-hander worked out of the jam with an easy ground ball.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs wasted no time in tying the game.

Pierre Capobianco started with a walk and DaeganBrady followed by a one-out double down the straight to put Gardner-Webb on the board. Benino Mendella dropped a two-out double to the left for a 4-2 score, then Trevor Mattson hit the first home run of his Gardner-Webb career – a two-run rocket to left field to tie the game.

Campbell came back in front with one out in the fifth, getting a solo homer from Belbin in the opposite field. A single and a fielding error allowed two more camels to reach base, but Portella kicked a 5-3 double play to end the inning with a single run.

Gardner-Webb got a debut single from Alex Ray and put two men in scoring position after Capobianco was dunked – followed by a wild throw. Brady drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs and the Camels went to the bullpen.

A wild pitch allowed Ray to sprint home and tie the game – and A.J. Jones market to load the bases again. Camels reliever Jake Murray managed to put out the fire, getting one out on four pitches for the third out.

After a scoreless top in the sixth, Gardner-Webb stormed into the lead. Mattson started the bottom half of the inning with another commanding solo shot on the left for a 6-5 lead. Jacob Marcos walked, went second on a wild pitch and scored on a baseline rule double by curtis robinson. A pair of steps loaded the bases and Brady followed by throwing a single down the shallow right to score Robison. A.J. Jones capped the rally with a sacrificial fly right into foul territory and Gardner-Webb held a 9-5 lead.

Campbell salvaged two of those runs in the top of the seventh when Harrill hit his second home run of the game – a two-run dead-center shot. Gardner-Webb called the bullpen shortly after and Connor Gleeson worked out of the inning with his ‘Dogs still ahead.

Gleeson came out of the eighth with the lead still intact and Gardner-Webb charged in the bottom of the eighth. Campbell made it out of that jam and made his move in the ninth.

Harrill walked to start the inning and drove up a base when Denning singled to third base at the end of his bat. A double steal was followed by a pitch error at first, allowing both runners to score and tie the game. Gardner-Webb got closer Gabe Pilla, but Dylan Koontz was safe on a simple soft bunt. A defender’s pick downed a Campbell runner in the third for the first out of the inning, but Ty Babin scored an RBI single to right center to put the visitors back in front.

Pilla recovered with a 6-3 double play to end the set.

Ray started with a walk on foot in the bottom of the ninth, but Campbell’s closest, Ryan Chasse, made his second save of the weekend with a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

Garrett Kangas (1-0) worked 1.0 scoreless innings for the victory, allowing only one base runner on a walk.

The Camels had 11 hits, Harrill (3 for 4, 2 HR, 3 RBI) leading. Campbell scored seven of his 10 runs on home runs on Sunday, Belbin also hit a pair.

Gleeson (2-2) took the loss for GWU, allowing three runs on three hits in 3.0 innings of relief work.

Brady (3 for 4, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Mattson (2 for 4, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Ray (2 for 4) each had two of Gardner-Webb’s nine base hits.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs exit the conference on Wednesday, making the short trip to Cullowhee, North Carolina to face West Carolina at 4:00 p.m.

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