Baseball Season Comes to End with Loss to #5 USC Aiken


AIKEN, SC -- Fifth-ranked and top-seeded USC Aiken used three squeeze bunts by senior catcher John Sherrer and a complete-game pitching effort from Clayton Knight to capture a 7-2 win over 21st-ranked and fourth-seeded Catawba College on Saturday afternoon at Roberto Hernandez Stadium in an elimination game at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Baseball Tournament.  USCA (41-18) advances to play seventh-ranked and second-seeded Francis Marion University in an elimination game on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.  The winner of that contest will face unbeaten (in Southeast Regional tournament play) and sixth-seeded Belmont Abbey College in Sunday's championship game at noon.  Catawba ends its season at 36-18.

Squeeze bunts by Sherrer in the second and fourth innings staked the Pacers to a 2-0 advantage.  Catawba trimmed the margin in half (2-1) with a sacrifice fly by Ryan Query (Kannapolis, NC/Brown HS) in the bottom of the fifth.

USCA plated three runs in the sixth to extend its lead 5-1.  Sherrer's third RBI bunt pushed across the first run while Cody McMorris hit a sacrifice fly and Alex Fraklin followed with an RBI single to center field.

The Indians scored a single run in the last of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Craige Lyerly (Salisbury, NC/E. Rowan HS), but the Pacers matched that run with a tally in the top of the seventh on a solo homer by Ken Raborn.

Travis Howard accounted for the final Pacer run in the ninth with a sacrifice fly, an RBI that tied the Peach Belt Conference single-season mark of 103.  Howard is now just one RBI away from tying the NCAA Division II RBI single-season record.  Designated hitter Gary Asbill was 3-for-3 to lead USCA, while Sherrer was 2-for-2 with the three runs batted in. Both Franklin and Raborn also had two hits.

Query paced the Indian attack with a 3-for-4 day with an RBI.  Right fielder Josh Hohn (Greensboro, NC/S. Guilford HS) was 2-for-4 with a run scored.  Lyerly had a double in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 35 games.  He is 11 shy of the conference mark of 46 and 14 short of the NCAA II record of 49 games.  Both of those streaks were established over two seasons.

Knight (5-3), seeing his first action in three weeks, pitched his second complete game of the year, allowing only one earned run on 10 hits, while matching his season-high of 10 strikeouts.  Knight has now captured three 10-strikeout games from the hill in 2009.  Catawba’s Trevor Mullins (5-4) was saddled with the loss despite the fact that half of the six runs he allowed were unearned.  He struck out five in seven innings.  The game was interrupted for 45 minutes in the top of the eighth by a lightning delay.

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