FAYETTEVILLE — Campbell swept a pair of must-win games over USC Upstate and Gardner-Webb to secure a spot in the Big South Conference baseball tournament championship Saturday against Presbyterian.
Campbell defeated Upstate, 5-3, and downed G-W, 13-9.
CU makes its third straight trip to the conference championship game.
Two Camels turned in big time pitching performances to earn wins and help keep arms fresh in the bullpen. Thomas Harrington tossed five and one-third scoreless innings for the game one win. Aaron Rund went eight and one-third innings in game two.
After the offense was shut down by Presbyterian on Thursday in a 7-2 loss, the Campbell bats began to come to life in game one against Upstate, and broke through for 13 runs against Gardner-Webb.
Campbell (35-15) tallied 23 total hits on the day.
Harrington stifled the Spartan offense for the second straight time.
Harrington entered with one on and two out in the fourth. After issuing a walk, he locked in and only allowed one baserunner to reach second base the rest of the way. He fanned four, aided by inning ending double plays in the eighth and ninth. In his last 14 and one-third innings against Upstate, the freshman has allowed just four hits and no runs while striking out 12.
The Camels jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with two in the first and another in the second. Spencer Packard and Collin Wolf each delivered two-out RBIs in the first. Connor Denning drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second.
Campbell left the base
s loaded in the second and stranded 14 runners for the game.
The Spartans answered with three runs off Campbell starter Ryan Chasse to knot the score in the fourth.
Matt Christian delivered in the fifth with a two-run blast to center field to put the Camels up 5-3.
Packard picked up three hits to lead the Camels.
Rund made his third start of the season and got knocked around early, allowing two two-run home runs in the first inning. The Campbell coaching staff chose to stick with him, a decision that paid off. He tossed the next seven innings scoreless, and faced the minimum in the fourth through eighth innings.
He was aided by solid defense as the middle infield duo of Wolf and Neto turned three double plays.
Rund allowed 14 hits, seven runs and struck out six without a walk.
Down 4-0 in the first, Campbell responded with four runs to even the game after one inning.
Of Campbell’s 13 hits, seven went for extra bases, highlighted by three triples, two from Zach Neto and one from Marcus Skundrich.
Gardner-Webb made some noise in the ninth, with two more home runs to cut the lead from nine to four, but the lead held as Fred Sisco picked up the final out.
Campbell returns to Segra Stadium on Saturday. The Camels will have to defeat the Blue Hose twice to claim the crown.
The first game is scheduled for noon and will be available on ESPNU. With a Campbell win, game two would follow 50 minutes after the completion of game one.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)