ATHENS, Tenn. – #1 Tennessee Wesleyan and visiting UVa-Wise locked up in a pitcher’s duel at Jack Bowling Field on Wednesday. The victorious Bulldogs struck for two runs in the second inning and held off a late Cavalier rally to post a 2-1 victory.
Following a scoreless first inning, Tennessee Wesleyan (20-6) got on the board in its half of the second frame as Braxton Smith lifted an off speed pitch over the left field wall to give the defending national champions a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning, Travis Burnside would single and move to third on a Brad Carpenter double. Burnside would eventually score on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Logan Dalton. UVa-Wise starter Steven Klaiber would strand Carpenter on base as he induced an inning-ending fly ball.
Klaiber and Tennessee Wesleyan starter Zach Fleshman would exchange zeros over the next three innings as neither team managed more than one base-runner in the game’s middle innings.
UVa-Wise (5-11) would find its way onto the scoreboard in the sixth when Steven Allen lined his second base hit of the day, stole second, and scored on an RBI double by Tyler Hutson. Fleshman would end the threat by retiring Brett Hylton on strikes to keep the score2-1 in favor of the host going to the bottom of the sixth.
Klaiber would allow a lead-off single to Trevor Griffin and then get Levi Drew to pop out to the infield. From there, Klaiber was removed for Jacob Huff who allowed a single to Brandon Walker. Walker would move up a base as the Cavs committed a throwing error attempting to prevent Griffin from moving to third. Head Coach Hank Banner elected to intentionally walk Josh McCray to load the bases. The freshman Huff was again up to the task as he forced Burnside to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Noah Piard was summoned out of the Tennessee Wesleyan bullpen to try and record the save. The right hander walked Michael McCollom on five pitches to start the frame before allowing a base hit to Kirk Jennings to put runners on first and second with nobody out for Tye Marshall. Marshall was asked to bunt but, was unable to get the job done as the hard-throwing Piard fanned the second baseman. Piard would then pickoff Matt Murphy who was in the game as a pinch runner for McCollom before striking out pinch hitter Brian King to end the contest.
Overall, Fleshman allowed a run on four hits while striking out four in his six innings of work to earn the victory. In the loss, Klaiber allowed two runs on six hits, he struck out four and walked one.
The victory improved Fleshman to 3-1 on the year, Piard collected his 10th save of the year with the scoreless seventh inning. Klaiber drops 0-2 with the loss.