Split with Mars Hill gives Baseball third straight SAC crown

MARS HILL, NC -- Catawba salvaged a split with host Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference baseball action on Saturday afternoon at Henderson Field, giving the fourth-ranked Indians its third straight league crown. The Lions won the opener 10-5, while Catawba won game two 12-2. The Indians improve to 40-11 overall and 17-4 in the SAC, while Mars Hill stands at 29-25 and 10-11.

In the opener, Chris Lambert (Brevard, NC) and Clarke Rollins (Mechanicsville, MD) gave the Lions a 2-0 lead in the third inning by hitting solo homeruns. Lambert came through for the Lions again in the fourth inning when he hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Marc Wassum (Winter Park, FL).

David Thomas (Winston-Salem, NC) tied the game for the Indians in the fifth frame when he hit a three-run homer to right-center. Catawba then took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning when Chad Baker (Jamestown, NC) singled through the middle to plate Aaron Rimer (Salisbury, NC). Wassum then hit a two-run homerun to left-center to give the Lions a 5-4 advantage at the end of six innings of play.

MHC then scored five runs on four hits in the seventh inning to put the game away. Jeff Mayo (Enfield, CT) and Jason Yelton (Burnsville, NC) each had two-RBI singles in the inning. Wassum led the Lions with three RBI followed by Mayo who went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Rollins was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Cody Branton (Burnsville, NC) picked up the win (5-2) in relief for the Lions. Charlie Harrison (Granite Falls, NC) obtained his league-leading tenth save in the contest throwing the final three innings allowing just one run on three hits and struck out three batters. Adam Atkinson (Weaverville, NC) kept MHC in the game as he started the game and went five innings allowing just two earned runs on six hits.

Thomas led Catawba going 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Baker was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Alex Fairweather (Lenoir, NC) took the loss (8-2) for the Indians on the mound.

Catawba jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning on four hits and three Lion errors. The inning was highlighted by a two-RBI single from Nick Lefko (Faith, NC) and a two-run homerun from Thomas. Matt Russell crossed the plate in the bottom half of the second inning on fielder’s choice to cut the deficit to 5-1. He reached base by hitting a triple down the right field line. Matt Carter (Sunrise, FL) hit a two-out single in the third stanza to score Billy Britt (Asheville, NC) from third base and cut the Indians lead to 5-2. In the top of the fourth, Catawba went up 7-2 after the Indians received RBI singles from Jimbo Davis (Salisbury, NC) and Jerry Sands (Clayton, NC).

The Indians added a pair of runs in the fifth inning when Rimer hit a lead-off homerun down the right field line and Lefko scored on a sacrifice fly by Thomas. Catawba scored two more insurance runs in the sixth frame when Lefko singled to center to plate Sands and then Baker doubled to drive in Mark Smith (Browns Summitt, NC). Catawba ended their scoring in the seventh inning after Davis was sent home on a sacrifice fly by Sands. Thomas and Lefko each tallied three RBI in the game.

Lefko had three hits while Thomas recorded two. Sands also had multiple RBI with two in the win. Blake Ketner (Davidson, NC) threw five innings scattering six hits and allowing just a single earned run to pick up the win (6-2) for the Indians, who will be the top seed in next week’s SAC Tournament in Greeneville, TN. Carter led MHC going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Mayo was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Nathan Fritz (Kingsport, TN) took the loss (1-6) for the Lions on the hill. #####

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