by Cory Guinn
ELON, N.C. – Barton held an early lead, but the Crusaders of Belmont Abbey College walked away with a 5-3 win in 11 innings in the opening game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament at Latham Park.
A game originally scheduled for 11 a.m. in Burlington, N.C. was moved to the campus of nearby Elon University due to wet field conditions.
Barton (28-22) entered as the tournament's No. 4 overall seed and jumped on the No. 4 seed Crusaders (31-15) early with a run in the first inning courtesy of an RBI double from senior Andrew Webster. Fellow senior Shawn Montren hit a two-run home run to left field in the second inning to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-0.
However, Belmont Abbey's Nick Beinlich drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the second to put his team on the scoreboard. The two sides remained scoreless until the Crusaders pushed a run across in the seventh and eventually tied the game at 3-all with a solo home run from Keenan Stanley in the eighth inning.
Neither side was able to produce a run over the ninth and 10th innings of action as Barton left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth and stranded a runner at second in the top of the 10th.
After BC went down in order to start the 11th inning of play, Belmont Abbey put a runner on base via a one-out walk and ended the game on a walk-off, two run home run from Beinlich.
Barton starter Dylan Ward allowed just two runs on nine hits with four strikeouts over six innings on the mound, while senior Kerry Walker threw four innings out of bullpen, allowed one run on two hits with a strikeout and two walks.
Junior right-hander Trent Fennel (7-2) suffered the loss after giving up two runs on one hit with a strikeout and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning of relief.
Webster led the Barton offense, going 2-for-5 at the plate with a double and an RBI, while Montren was 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI of his own.
Barton will now face the winner of the contest between No. 1 seed University of Mount Olive and No. 6 seed Pfeiffer University tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m.