By Matt Green
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of West Florida jumped out to a 7-0 lead through six innings then withstood Shorter University's late charge to hold off the Hawks 11-5 in non-league baseball action on Friday night in Dahlonega, Ga. The game, despite featuring two Gulf South Conference programs, counts as a non-conference contest as part of the North Georgia Classic.
Jesse Gavigan paced the Hawks (0-8) against the Argos going 2-for-4 with a two-run single as part of Shorter's five-run eighth. Walker Borneman added a two-out, two-run double in the same frame and senior Willie Lewis drew a bases loaded walk to open the Hawks' eighth inning scoring, which brought Shorter to within 10-5 with one at-bat remaining.
The Hawks, who have dropped four of their eight games by two runs or less – three by a one-run margin – fell behind early against the 2011 NCAA Division II national champs thanks in large part to uncharacteristic defensive mistakes.
After West Florida plated a run in the first courtesy of Austin Southall's RBI single, the Argos posted three unearned tallies in the second to take a 4-0 lead. The first two batters of the inning reached on an error and passed ball following a strikeout to set up scoring opportunities and Cliff Covington's two-out, two-run double on a 2-2 count was the final blow in the inning.
A two-run homer by Michael Tomlinson in the sixth staked West Florida a 7-0 edge and two more unearned runs as part of a three-run Argo eighth put West Florida up 10-0.
Shorter rallied behind Lewis, Gavigan and Borneman in the bottom half of the eighth, but it was too little, too late for the Hawks, who were outhit 10-6 and committed five errors on the night. Only six of West Florida's 11 runs were earned.
Cal Hardie went 2-for-5 for Shorter and Lewis finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. Lewis' hit was his team leading ninth and the two walks his team-high seventh and eighth.
Lewis is hitting .375 to lead Shorter this season.
The Argos (7-0) received a strong starting pitching performance from Drew Bryson, who improved to 2-0 on the young season by holding Shorter to one hit in his five innings of work while fanning three and walking just one. Covington led the Argos at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI while Tomlinson finished 2-for-3 with his homer and two driven in.
Shorter did hold reigning GSC Player of the Week Dustin Saulmon to an 0-for-3 night at the plate, as Saulmon was one of Shorter starter Ben Stell's (0-1) five strikeout victims.
The Hawks are back in action today at the North Georgia Classic and will take on Millersville at 4:30 pm.