by Julien Benjamin
It took until the 11th inning, but the KSU Owls pulled off a 2-1 comeback victory over Gardner-Webb’s Running Bulldogs on Friday evening. A-Sun player of the week Max Pentecost scorched a double to the left-center field wall, and Jacob Bruce, who had walked to lead off the inning, slid home just ahead of the throw. According to Pentecost, he was supposed to bunt in the at-bat, but chose to swing because he was thrown a fastball by GWU lefty Mitch Warner.
KSU had just six hits during the game, but due to strong pitching, were able to stay within striking distance.
Gardner-webb scored their only (unearned) run in the top of the second when first baseman Chris McGowan failed to retrieve a throw from the shorstop Kal Simmons, allowing RF Nick Tripplett to score from second. However, Hillyer was superb, throwing seven innings, while allowing six hits and striking out five. Justin McCalvin pitched an additional three scoreless innings, and closer James Connell pitched an easy 11th and was the beneficiary of Max’s RBI double, gaining his first win of the season. Bulldogs lefty Mitch Warner gathered the loss, as he was unable to record an out in his appearance. However, Gardner Webb starter Matt Fraudin was superb, throwing 10 shutout innings, striking out 10 and allowing just 5 hits.
Earlier, the Owls had completed another comeback when they scored a run in the ninth to tie the game at one apiece off of Bo Way’s sacrice fly with two outs. KSU had threatened to tie in earlier innings, but were unable to get that timely hit to score a run, as they left runners on in scoring position in the sixth and seventh. In the ninth, after a leadoff walk to Jay Bruce, and an error on GW first basemen Scott Coleman, on which Bruce went to third, Owls CF Bo Way’s sacrifice with two outs led to the game-tying score. The Owls put another runner in scoring position in the 10th, with just 1 out, but neither pinch-hitter Justin Motley, nor Kal Simmons were able to bring him home.
In the 10th, it took just 2 batters for the Owls to score a run, their most efficient offensive performance of the night.
Not to be lost in his offensive heroics is the fact that Pentecost threw out 2 runners, and came extremely close to gunning down all 3 that attempted a stolen base. Says Pentecost, “I’m comfortable with my throws down to second.”
The Owls continue their series against the Runnin’ Bulldogs today in a doubleheader that starts at 1pm, at Stillwell Stadium.