JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 22, 2003) - Gardner-Webb scored a run in the top of the ninth on a wild pitch to break a tie and held on for a 4-3 victory over East Tennessee State Tuesday night from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.
Gardner-Webb (25-15) took a 3-0 lead after scoring individual runs in each of the first three innings. With one out in the first, Bulldog left fielder reached on an error, then scored on a double by center fielder Sam Bradford. In the second frame, third baseman Matt Higginson singled to first base with one out. Then with two down, he crossed the plate on a double by shortstop John David Milford. In the third inning, Bradford reached on an error with one out. He scored the third Gardner-Webb run on a ground out to short by catcher Jay Bennett.
East Tennessee State (11-25) cut the Bulldog lead to just one by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman third baseman Shane Byrne (Johnson City, Tenn.) led off the inning with a single to left. Junior left fielder Bo Calloway (Knoxville, Tenn.) then reached on an error, with Byrne advancing to third. Byrne came home on a subsequent fielder's choice by sophomore second baseman Justin Clear (LaFollette, Tenn.) and Calloway then crossed the plate on a single by junior shortstop Andy Howdeshell (Maryville, Tenn.).
The Bucs struck again in the bottom of the seventh, scoring one run to tie the game at three. Freshman catcher Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.) led off the frame with a double to left center. He advanced to third via an error on a fielder's choice by Calloway. After a walk to Clear, Howdeshell singled through the left side, scoring Church to tie the game. The inning could have been much bigger for the Bucs, but Gardner-Webb pitcher Joey Siak recorded three outs without any more Bucs crossing the plate.
Then with two outs in the ninth, the Bulldogs rallied for the eventual winning run. Pinch hitter Billy McCarson singled to center, and was pinch-run for by Josh Starnes. Starnes stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Buccaneer senior pitcher Willie McKenzie (Kingsport, Tenn.) entered the game and his second pitch was in the dirt, allowing Starnes to come home.
ETSU threatened in the ninth, but Gardner-Webb closer Kevin Wellmon came on to strike out the final two Buccaneer batters, leaving the bases loaded.
Siak (7-3) got the win for the Bulldogs, pitching 8.1 innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits. He struck out a batter and walked two. Senior Jarrod Hyder (Elizabethton, Tenn.) turned in his second-straight strong start for the Bucs, pitching six innings and allowing one earned run on six hits. He struck out five and walked one, but received a no-decision. ETSU sophomore righty Mike Bauer (Kingsport, Tenn.) was charged with the loss (1-2), pitching 2.2 innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and striking out four.
Howdeshell led the Bucs at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Bradford led Gardner-Webb, also with two hits on the night.
Buccaneer baseball returns to action tomorrow as ETSU travels to Clemson, S.C. to face the No. 20 Tigers from Doug Kingsmore Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m.