Campbell flirted early with an opening-round win over top-seeded Georgia on Saturday in the NCAA tournament's Athens Regional. It proved to be a big tease.
Tucker Bradley’s fourth-inning grand slam wiped away Campbell’s one-run lead and sparked Georgia to an 18-5 victory. The loss dropped Campbell (35-25) into the loser’s bracket and a meeting later Saturday against Duke, a 6-0 loser to Troy in Friday’s opening round.
The 18 runs allowed by Campbell were the most since N.C. State defeated the Camels 21-4 on March 4.
Campbell, playing in its third NCAA tournament since moving up to Division I, knew it needed outstanding starting pitching to advance against this field. But starter Wes Noble (7-7) struggled from the outset.
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The right-handed Noble got the starting nod after his two-hit, complete-game shutout clinched Campbell’s Big South Conference regular-season championship against Winthrop. He was not nearly as sharp against Georgia.
Even though the Bulldogs managed only a two-run homer by Cam Shepherd over the first three innings, Georgia hit Noble hard. Then when he opened the fourth inning by issuing three consecutive walks, Georgia pounced on Noble’s ineffectiveness. Following Bradley’s grand slam, Georgia tacked on three runs in the inning, and the game’s outcome was decided with a 9-3 lead.
Georgia continued to pour it on with three more runs in the fifth, one in the seventh and five in the eighth. Campbell contributed to Georgia’s cause by issuing 11 walks and hitting three batters with pitches.
Campbell’s Matthew Barefoot, the Big South tournament MVP, continued his hot hitting. He accounted for four Campbell runs with his bat and legs.
Barefoot dropped the first pitch of the game into center field for a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Tyler Anshaw. He drove in a run with a single in the second inning and two more with a home run in the sixth, his eighth of the season.