April 13, 2013
Baseball Wins SAC Championship In Dramatic Finish
MARS HILL, NC -- Catawba withstood a five-run seventh by host Mars Hill and held on to sweep the South Atlantic Conference baseball doubleheader and with it the SAC Championship. The Catawba Indians won by the scores of 18-3 and 7-6 on Saturday afternoon at Henderson Field. Catawba, ranked 28th in NCAA II, improves to 33-14 overall and 21-6 in the SAC. The Lions fall to 10-13 and 7-18.
Catawba and Wingate entered the final game of the season tied after both had won their opener on Saturday (Wingate 5-0 at Tusculum). The Indians entered the seventh with a 6-1 lead, while Wingate held a 3-1 edge at Tusculum. Tusculum rallied and won with a walk-off three-run home run, leaving the out-right league title in Catawba's hands.
The Indians scored what turned out to be a much needed insurance run in the top of the seventh on an error to lead 7-1. Andy Runion started the bottom of the seventh with a triple and scored on an error for Mars Hill. After an out and an error, a single by Jacob Rand chased Catawba starter Ross Whitley (Mooresville, NC/Lake Norman HS) and brought in reliever Ryan McClintock (Matthew, NC/Providence HS).
Another error would plate a second Mars Hill run and a single loaded the bases for Tommy Scala, who singled home two to cut the margin to 7-5. A groundout got another run home and moved the tying run to scoring position before McClintock ended the came on a comebacker to give the Indians the league title.
After going down by a run, Paul Kronenfeld (Greensboro, NC/Woodberry Forest/Georgia Tech) tied the game with a sacrifice fly. The Indians broke the game open an inning later with a five-run fourth. With two-outs, Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, NC/S. Rowan HS) doubled home two runs and following a walk to Chris Dula (Troutman, NC/S. Iredell HS), Kronenfeld cleared the bases with a three-run double.
Whitley improved to 7-0 as he went six and a third innings, allowing four runs, none earned, off seven hits with six strikeouts. Kronenfeld had four RBI and two hits for the Indians. Keaton Hawks (Lexington, NC/E. Davidson HS) had two hits and scored twice.
Scala had two RBI and two hits for Mars Hill. Runion and Jacob Rand also had two hits.
Catawba set itself up for the outright title by scoring 17 runs over the final four innings in the game one rout. Garrett Furr (Gold Hill, NC/Mt. Pleasant HS) had given the Indians a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the fourth then singled home two runs to held start a four-run sixth. Julio Zubillaga (China Grove, NC/Carson HS) also had a two-run single in the frame.
Mars Hill made it 5-2 after six, but the Indians pushed across eight run in the seventh to blow the game open. Dula picked a rare two-run sacrifice fly to start the innings, while Jon Wallace (Salisbury, NC/NW Cabarrus HS/Lynchburg) added a two-run double in the outburst. The Indians capped the game with five more runs in the ninth.
John Tuttle (Kannapolis, NC/Brown HS) moved to 9-4 with the win. He pitched the first six innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits with six strikeouts. Zubillaga had three hits and four RBI, while Houston had four hits and scored three runs. Rand had two of the Lions' three hits.
Catawba will host Belmont Abbey on Tuesday at 6 p.m. before opening SAC Tournament play on Thursday at Forest City, NC.
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