Diamond Bishops Open Season with Series Win over Eastern Mennonite

Nate Gardner
Nate Gardner

Rocky Mount, N.C. - N.C. Wesleyan's baseball team opened its 2018 season on Thursday and Friday, taking two of three from Eastern Mennonite University to claim the series win at Bauer Field. Junior Nate Gardner provided a spark in both victories, allowing just one hit over seven shutout innings in Thursday's opener and driving in a pair of runs in Friday's rubber game.

Gardner got the nod in Thursday's season opener, which proved to be a pitcher's dual between the junior righty and EMU's Damon Frazier. Scoreless through five innings, Wesleyan provided the game's only offense in the bottom of the sixth when newcomer Max Johnson blasted a 2-run homer to center. Gardner proceeded to sit down EMU 1-2-3 in the seventh before exiting in favor of sophomores Jackson Moseley and Noah Shrock in the eighth and ninth, respectively. Shrock earned the save, striking out the side to seal the 2-0 victory.

The Royals struck first on Friday, plating a trio of runs in the top of the first off of NCWC starter J.D. Makauskas. Makauskas fell victim to a pair of softly hit infield singles early in the frame, while a 2-run double by EMU's Jaylon Lee provided the big blow. Royal hurler John Judy took a no-hitter into the fifth before an infield single by sophomore Brad Pennington spoiled the no-no. NCWC junior Brandon Wheat tallied Wesleyan's only other single in the seventh, eventually scoring on an RBI-groundout by sophomore Nick Beaver. Makauskas took the loss on the hill, despite settling in to toss a solid six innings.

Freshman Drew Tubb got the start in the rubber game, and the rookie did not disappoint. Tubb allowed just two hits and struck out three over five complete, while sophomores Michael Smith and Luke Mills tossed a scoreless sixth and seventh to secure the staff's second shutout in three games. Offensively, junior Trey Croom went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored two runs. Gardner drove in a pair of runs with an RBI-groundout in the second and a 2-out RBI-single that capped a 3-run fourth. 

The Bishops continue play on Wednesday at Christopher Newport. First pitch is slated for 2:00pm.