ASHEVILLE — Senior slugger Christian Jones cranked two home runs to lead Campbell to a 9-5 series-clinching Big South Conference baseball victory over UNC Asheville Saturday afternoon at Greenwood Baseball Field.
Jones posted his eighth and ninth home runs of the season, driving in a team-high four runs and scoring three to lead the Camels offensively. Midway graduate Matthew Barefoot collected two singles and a double, scoring twice and stealing two bases for the game. Luis Gimenez also notched two steals for Campbell, while Bryce Myers drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single.
Right-handed reliever Logan Bender (3-0) was credited with the win, tossing two and one-third innings with one earned run and five strikeouts.
Starting lefty Jordan Carr (2-3) took the loss, allowing five earned runs over five innings.
Tyson Messer and Barefoot kept the Bulldogs off the board over the final three frames. Messer went two innings with no hits, while Barefoot pitched one scoreless frame with just one hit allowed.
Campbell (15-13, 8-1 Big South) got on the board early, as Jones’ sacrifice fly to right field scored Gimenez in the top of the first. The Camels now own a 12-4 record when scoring first, and a 9-3 mark when scoring in the first inning.
UNC Asheville (7-19, 4-5 Big South) responded with two runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by first baseman Jake Madole. The Bulldogs added a run in the second on a squeeze bunt from Kole Harris to take a 3-1 lead.
Jones’ first homer came in the top of the fourth, as the Jacksonville, Fla., native hit an opposite field bomb over the right field wall. Campbell tied the game when Myers knocked a single through the middle that scored Joe Zirolli in the top of the fifth.
The Camels went up for good with three runs in the top of the sixth. After Barefoot reached on an infield single, Jones smashed a two-run jack well beyond the left field fence. Myers skied a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Jeff Hahs for a 6-3 Campbell lead.
The Bulldogs pulled within a run in the bottom of the sixth, as Asheville slugger Brandon Lankford launched a two-run pinch homer to right field.
Clinging to a 6-5 lead, the Camels scored three insurance runs in the top of the ninth. After Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases, Minnick recorded Campbell’s third sacrifice fly to score Gimenez. With runners on the corners, Campbell pulled off a double steal as Barefoot swiped home plate and Jones took second. Hahs knocked a single to center to score Jones and give Campbell a 9-5 advantage.
The Camels have now claimed three-straight Big South series, with sweeps over Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb and a 2-1 series win at Asheville. It’s the first time Campbell has won three-straight conference series since 2016 (Gardner-Webb, Liberty and Longwood, April 8-24).
The Camels play Duke at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Wednesday (April 4) at 6 p.m.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)