8-run first gives Radford win over Longwood

Published 10:45 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Radford used a first-inning outburst and a pair of three-RBI days from shortstop David Bryant and designated hitter Dac Archer to take down Longwood 16-5 Tuesday, April 20 at Buddy Bolding Stadium.

The Highlanders (16-14, 10-10 Big South) scored half of their runs in their first turn at the plate, staking starter Hunter Williams (2-2) an 8-0 lead that eventually earned him his second straight win in the 2021 series between the commonwealth rivals.

That early scoring outburst allowed Radford to withstand a late-inning resurgence from the Lancers (11-22, 4-15 Big South), who got a combined four shutout innings out of the bullpen from senior Matt Shobe and freshman Aidan VanVickle and a towering two-run homer from two-way cleanup hitter Dillon Champagne, which was the first of his collegiate career.

However, that production did little to overcome a double-digit deficit Radford built on the strength of an offense that tagged 12 singles and got RBIs from seven different players. Leading that charge were Bryant and Archer, who combined to go 5-for-8 with six RBIs and five runs, and leadoff man Garrett Matheny, who went 3-for-4 and reached safely in four of his five plate appearances.

Radford entered the game after hitting .316 in a series win over perennial Big South title contender Winthrop and carried that momentum through the first five innings, scoring all 16 runs during that stretch. Along with Bryant and Archer’s three RBIs, Matheny, Straton Podaras and Jalen Buster also drove in multiple runs, while both Archer and Buster crossed the plate for times.

Shobe was the one to quiet the Highlander bats after taking over in the top of the sixth, facing the minimum in his first two frames and striking out the side in the seventh. He stranded two runners in a scoreless eighth before handing the ball to freshman Aidan VanVickle, who worked a hitless ninth and struck out the final two batters he faced.

The scoreless outing for Shobe was his second straight and extended a two-game stretch in which he has allowed just five hits and no runs over his past five frames. Meanwhile, VanVickle’s scoreless inning dropped his ERA to 3.00 on the year.

Along with Champagne’s sixth-inning home run, Longwood freshman leadoff batter Hayden Harris, two-hitter Eliot Dix and reserve first baseman James Nelson also drive in runs, with Nelson tagging two hits for the third multi-hit game of his Lancer career. Meanwhile, freshman Keondre Shelton entered the game in the third inning and went on to reach safely in all four plate appearances with a double and three walks.

The Lancers will now have two off-days to prepare for a three-game road series this Friday and Saturday at USC Upstate. Game one is slated for a 6 p.m. first pitch Friday in Spartanburg, while games two and three will come in a doubleheader Saturday starting at 2 p.m.