No. 5 Radford Downs No. 4 Gardner-Webb, 8-2
HIGH POINT, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Eddie Butler struck out 10 batters in eight innings and Josh Gardiner drove in two runs to lead No. 5 seed Radford past No. 4 Gardner-Webb, 8-2, in Game 1 of the 2012 Big South Baseball Championship presented by Brookwood Farms BBQ and Triangle Rent A Car at Williard Stadium on the campus of High Point University. With the victory, Radford improves to 29-26-1 and plays the winner of No. 1 Coastal Carolina-No. 8 Charleston Southern on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30pm. The Runnin' Bulldogs fall to 30-27 and will play the loser of CCU-CSU in an elimination game Wednesday morning at 9:30am.
Radford opened the game's scoring in the top of the second. Matt Hillsinger led off with a double and later moved to third when GWU shortstop Ryan Hodge mishandled Ryan Burgess' grounder for an error. Carl Travers then delivered a single to center to score Hillsinger, but Gardner-Webb starter Andrew Barnett then induced a double play to end the threat.
The Highlanders extended their lead to 3-0 in the third inning. Gardiner reached on an error and Zach Costello followed with a single. Brett Mollenhauer singled through the infield to load the bases, and Jeff Kemp's fielder's choice groundout scored Gardiner, while Hillsinger brought home Costello with a sacrifice fly.
Radford made it 4-0 in the top of the fourth and 5-0 in the fifth. In the fourth, Travers singled with one out and eventually scored on Gardiner's single to right. In the next inning, Hillsinger reached on GWU's third error of the day and came around to score on Matt Mack's double to left-center.
Gardner-Webb threatened in the bottom of the fifth. Hodge and Benji Jackson smacked singles to put runners on first and second. But Butler struck out Zeke Blanton to keep GWU off the scoreboard.
GWU, last year's Tournament runner-up, avoided the shutout in the bottom of the seventh when Dusty Quattlebaum delivered Butler's first pitch over the right field fence for a home run. The homer ended Butler's scoreless inning streak in the Tournament at 13 innings. The Runnin' Bulldogs made it 5-2 when Jackson doubled home Scott Johnson, who had reached on a two-out infield single. Radford got the runs back in the bottom half for the eventual winning score of 8-2.
Butler's 10 strikeouts were the most in a Big South Tournament game since 2008 when Liberty's Dustin Umberger fanned 10 batters against Radford. He allowed eight hits in his eight innings of work with no walks and improves to 7-4. Gardiner had two hits, as did Travers and Mollenhauer.
Barnett allowed five runs (two earned) in seven innings. He allowed eight hits and struck out four hitters in falling to 4-4. Hodge and Jackson had two hits each for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Radford Head Coach Joe Raccuia
"Our No. 1 pitcher came out and took care of business today. He was sharp, gave us zeroes and allowed us to score early in the game. We executed everything offensively and got some big two-out RBIs. Altogether it was a solid win and we will try to come out tomorrow and do the same thing."
Gardner-Webb Head Coach Rusty Stroupe
"Two words -- Eddie Butler. He really hit his spots well today. I didn't think we swung the bats badly today (eight hits) ... [Andrew] Barnett pitched pretty well for us today too. The defense let us down a little early. Radford had a couple of guys back who missed some of the regular season and they made a difference too. [Radford] is much better than a No. 5 seed when they're healthy."