Baseball Sits Atop SAC Standings After Win at Tusculum


GREENEVILLE, TN -- Catawba opened a key South Atlantic Conference baseball series with an 8-6 win over host Tusculum on Friday night at Pioneer Park.  Craig Brooks (Monroe, NC/Parkwood HS) earned his ninth straight win and TJ Wharton (Lutz, FL/Bishop McLaughlin HS/Guilford Tech) had a big bases-clearing double to help the Catawba Indians improve to 25-15 overall and 18-6 in the SAC.  The Pioneers fall to 25-15 and 13-11.

Brooks pitched six and a third innings and was helped by Sean Grant (Statesville, NC/W. Iredell HS) and Michael Trombino (Boca Raton, FL/Calvary Academy) to get out a messy seventh.  He improved to 9-2 and has not lost since his second start of the year on February 8.  The junior allowed five unearned runs on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.

Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, NC/S. Rowan HS) led off the game with a home run for Catawba, connecting on a 3-2 pitch to right field for his third round tripper of the year.  Paul Kronenfeld (Greensboro, NC/Woodberry Forest HS/Georgia Tech) singled home a run in the third to put the Indians up 2-0.

Tusculum erased that deficit with three unearned runs in the bottom of the third.  With two outs and a runner at first, a walk and an error put the Pioneers on the board.  Vinny Ferrara followed with a two-run double to give TC a 3-2 lead.

Catawba responded in the fourth.  Ethan Satterfield (Madison, NC/McMichael HS) led off with a single and scored on a double by Julio Zubillaga (China Grove, NC/Carson HS).  Zubillaga moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a ground ball off the bat of Cameron Beard (Conover, NC/Bunker Hill HS).

The Indians expanded on their 4-3 lead in the fifth.  With two outs, Keaton Hawks (Lexington, NC/E. Davidson HS) and Satterfield singled and Zubillaga was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Wharton brought all three home with a double to left and gave Catawba a 7-3 lead.  The Indians scored their final run in the sixth as Jon Wallace (Salisbury, NC/NW Cabarrus HS/Lynchburg) reached on an error and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Kronenfeld.

The Pioneers made it interesting in the seventh.  After an out, Chris Waylock reached on an error and Andrew Bowerman singled.  Walks followed to Jeremiah Tullidge and Trey Drewery to force in a run and chase Brooks.  Grant came in and fanned Heath Comerford then gave way to Trombino.  Pinch-hitter Cody Andreychuk reached on catcher's interference to make it 8-5 before Trombino struck out Ferrara with the bases loaded to end the frame.

Trombino retired the side in the eighth and got the first out in the ninth before a single by Tullidge and a double from Drewery cut the margin to 8-6.  Ryan McClintock (Matthews, NC/Providence HS) entered and after a walk to Comerford, he struck out pinch-hitter Jalen Shuffler and got Ferrara to hit a grounder to short to nab his eighth save.

Satterfield was the lone Catawba player to pick up two hits.  Wharton had three RBI on one swing and Kronenfeld drove in two runs.  Wallace, Satterfield and Zubillaga each scored twice.

Tullidge, Ferrara and Bowerman had two hits for Tusculum.  Drewery and Ferrara had two RBI, while Bowerman scored twice.  McKenly Berry (2-1) took the loss for the Pioneers, allowing all eight runs (seven earned) over five and a third innings.  He allowed seven hits with three strikeouts.  Michael Scott threw three no-hit innings in relief.

The teams are set to complete the three-game series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday at Pioneer Park.  With tonight's win and a loss by Lincoln Memorial, the Indians take the league lead by percentage points over the Railsplitters.

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