Longwood baseball team wins final series before break

FARMVILLE – Longwood baseball split a Saturday doubleheader against Radford, earning the series win. After dropping a tight middle game 5-3, the Lancers (19-27, 8-13 Big South) roared back against their in-state rivals to clinch the series. Ethan Walker excelled on the mound, and the offense ripped off 13 runs in a 13-4 win against the Highlanders (9-36, 1-17 Big South). 

How it happened

In Game One, Longwood jumped out to an early 3-0 lead behind a three-run second inning. Drew Camp put the Lancers on the board with an RBI double down the left field line, and Drayven Kowalski slipped a two-run single to centerfield to make it 3-0.

 However, from that point on, Radford starter Ty Burton (3-5) was almost unhittable. He didn’t surrender a run for the rest of his six innings, and he limited an aggressive, opportunistic Longwood offense to only two hits through the rest of his time.

The Lancers finally had a chance in the ninth after back-to-back singles by Camp and Kowalski, but Luke Vongoedert (1) induced a game-ending double play to preserve the win and get the save.

Dominick D’Ercole (1-1) took the loss for Longwood after giving up the go-ahead runs in the seventh. Ryan Miller was solid in his five-inning start for the Lancers. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks against five strikeouts.

Longwood baseball rallies in Game Two 

In Game Two, the Lancer offense put it to rest early. After Walker set Radford down in order in the top half of the first, Longwood batted around in the bottom half of the inning. The Lancers sent 11 batters to plate and chased Radford starter Ben Keefe (0-2) after one-third of an inning. Gregory Ryan, Jr. broke open the scoring with a screaming RBI single through the left side, but the Lancers weren’t done.

Camp had an RBI, Hayden Harris drew a bases loaded walk and Collin Hughes added an RBI single to right-center to end Keefe’s afternoon. He exited with the bases loaded and one out and four runs already home. All three of those guys came around to score, with wild pitches plating two and Ethan Barnes doubling in two more. All in all, the Lancers led 8-0 after one frame.

Walker (3-0) kept it that way. The freshman faced three more than the minimum in his five innings, and he tallied a trio of strikeouts. He gave up a bunt single for his only blemish in the hit column, and he hit two batters. Three times he retired the side in order.

After he exited, the Lancer bullpen took care of the rest and only gave up one earned run the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Longwood offense didn’t relent. The Lancers extended the lead to double digits with a three-run third inning. Hughes cranked an RBI double to dead center, and Dix poked a two-run single to left field a few batters later. For Hughes, he had a career day, going 3-3 with three runs and two RBI.

From that point on, the Lancers were in cruise control as they managed the game to its conclusion.

What they said

“Ethan Walker threw the ball well in game two,” said Longwood head coach Chad Oxendine. “Game one, we kind of let it slip away from us. The guys grinded all day. It’s a long day. We had a good day here, weather-wise, and the guys fought and played hard and with energy. Mathematically, we are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, and that’s what we talked about here at the end.”

“Hopefully, we can take a few days off, get healthy, take exams,” Oxendine added. “Some guys are a bit banged up, but let’s get healthy and give it one last big right-handed hook over the last stretch to try and get in that thing.”

“Walker was great and continues to get better every single time he goes out,” Oxendine said of his young freshman lefthander. “We knew, and that’s why we got him. We knew he was going to have a chance to be pretty good. The most exciting thing about him is that every time he toes the rubber, he’s getting better.”

“We were right back on it on offense in game two after that first game,” Oxendine said of his team’s response to the loss to start the doubleheader. “It was impressive. It shows the fight. It shows change. We take a hit, we get back up and keep fighting and put a big eight-spot up. What a way to respond after losing a tough one.”

More notes from Longwood baseball

Since Longwood joined the Big South, the matchup with Radford has gone to the team that won the opening game of the weekend series each time. The Lancers won the series opener on Friday night.

Hughes had a career best day, going 3-3 at the plate in game two. It was his first multi-hit game as a Lancer.

Walker remained undefeated on the mound with yet another strong start. He pitched into the fifth inning for the fourth time in his six collegiate starts.

Dix had a multi-hit day in the series finale, going 2-5 at the plate.

Camp had a strong day. He reached base safely four times in game one before drawing a pair of walks in game two.

Gregory Ryan, Jr. tallied his team-leading 51st RBI of the year in the series finale.

What’s up next?

The Longwood baseball team has the week off for finals. They next play on Sunday, May 7 at No. 20 Duke in a doubleheader. Both games will air on the ACCNX, and the first pitch for game one is set for 1 p.m.

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