FAYETTEVILLE — Matthew Barefoot launched a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to lift the top-seeded Campbell Camels to 8-6 win over No. 3 Winthrop, securing the 2018 Big South Baseball Championship title Saturday afternoon at SEGRA Stadium.
With the win, the Camels have swept the regular season and tournament titles for the second consecutive season. Campbell receives the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Baseball Tournament and discovers its Regional destination following the selection show on Monday, May 27 at noon on ESPNU.
Koby Collins, who was named the Big South Championship MVP, finished the title game 2-for-4 with a double. The Houston, Texas, native went a combined 7-for-10 over the entire tournament, blasting two home runs and collecting a trio of doubles for a 1.900 slugging percentage.
Collins was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Barefoot, Tyler Anshaw and Zach Minnick. In the final, Barefoot went 3-for-4 with three RBI, Anshaw had a 2-for-4 showing with two RBI, and Minnick also finished 3-for-4 with a double, his third of the tournament.
Eight of the nine Camels in the starting lineup collected at least one base hit in the win, combining for 14 hits, good for Campbell’s sixth-straight double-digit game. Anshaw and Luis Gimenez joined Barefoot in the home run column as Anshaw had a two-run dinger and Gimenez lifted a solo shot.
Senior lefty Phil Simpson (2-2) collected the win, going 3.1 innings in relief while striking out two. He surrendered just one hit and three walks, allowing two earned runs. The Holly Springs native sat the Eagles down in order in the seventh and tossed another scoreless frame in the eighth.
Senior righty Tyson Messer earned his fifth save of the season, getting the final two outs in the bottom of the ninth while also collecting a strikeout.
Winthrop jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first half inning of play, scoring on a sacrifice fly. The Eagles pushed across their second run in the top of fourth on another sacrifice fly.
Campbell got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth on Gimenez leadoff home run. Winthrop responded with two runs in the top of the fifth, but the Camels tied the score at four apiece with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Minnick led off the fifth with a single and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. He came around to score on Barefoot’s double into right-center field. Just three pitches later, Anshaw tied the game with a two-run home run to right field.
Once again, Winthrop responded in the next half inning, scoring one in the top of the sixth on a one-out RBI single, taking a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Minnick again led off the frame with a single. AJ Hrica also reached on a bunt single, but Minnick was caught trying to advance to third on the play, bringing Barefoot to the plate with one gone. Winthrop brought in its closer Colten Rendon to face Barefoot, and the first pitch that left Rendon’s hand was sent into the Campbell bullpen in left-center field for a go-ahead, two-run home run.
Anshaw kept the inning going with a double before scoring one batter later on Spencer Packard’s double down the left-field line, sending Campbell to the eighth with a 7-5 lead.
Simpson, who entered in the sixth, returned to pitch the eighth and dealt his second-straight scoreless frame. Campbell added an insurance run in the bottom half on Minnick’s RBI double that plated Collins.
Campbell entered the top of the ninth with an 8-5, and Simpson got the first out by way of strikeout. He allowed back-to-walk to the next two batters, so the Camels went to Messer, who came in and got his first batter swinging on strikes.
Messer issued a four-pitch to the next batter, loading the bases before an RBI single cut Campbell’s lead to two, 8-6. Campbell secured the Big South Championship title by getting the next batter to fly out to right field.
Up next, Campbell will await its NCAA Regional destination, as the tournament field will be revealed Monday, May 27 at noon on ESPNU. The regional competition is scheduled for Friday, May 31, through Monday, June 3, with the top-16 overall seeds hosting the opening rounds.
Photos courtesy Bennett Scarborough