The Georgia Gwinnett baseball team used a stellar complete-game effort from junior pitcher Tyler Carpenter to take defending national champion Tennessee Wesleyan College to the wire Thursday afternoon, but fell to the Bulldogs on a walk-off, 2-1, in Athens, Tenn.
Carpenter struck out six batters with just one walk over 8 innings, holding the nation's top-ranked team to one earned run in the loss.
After falling behind early, the Grizzlies tallied the tying score in the sixth inning before Wes Minton drove in the game-winner with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss is just the third of the year for GGC (8-3), while TWC improved to 12-4 with its 12th win in the last 13 games.
Each of the Grizzlies' defeats this season has been by a single run on their opponent's last at-bat.
"We feel really good about how our team competed today," Grizzlies head coach Brad Stromdahl said of his squad. "You don't ever want to lose, but we went up against the defending national champions and played really well. We had our opportunities and unfortunately they made some good defensive plays. That's how it goes sometimes. The best part is that we know we can play better."
A defensive error allowed the Bulldogs to push across an unearned run in the second inning on Brackton Smith's RBI triple with nobody out. Carpenter struck out the next batter and induced an inning-ending double play to limit the damage.
The Milton native then went pitch-for-pitch with the Bulldogs staff, as TWC starter Brent Adheen exited after 5 innings.
The Grizzlies connected in the sixth. Kyle Norton drew a leadoff walk and reached second. He scored two batters later on Jereid Woods' ground ball that was overthrown by the Bulldogs' shortstop, tying it 1-1.
Pat Long chipped in two hits for GGC and Billy Best added one, but the Grizzlies could not score again.
In the bottom of the ninth, David Donald led off with a walk and scored two batters later on Minton's RBI.
Carpenter (0-1) took the loss in the defeat but now has 18 strikeouts this season in 17 innings of work.
"Carpenter was just outstanding on the mound," Stromdahl said. "He put us in a position to win the game and that's what you want from your starter."