March 12, 2015
Baseball Hosts League Co-Leaders For Key Series This Weekend
SALISBURY, N.C. -- Weather has once against altered the Catawba baseball schedule. This weekend’s series with Lincoln Memorial will now start on Saturday with a 3 pm doubleheader followed by a single game on Sunday at 1 pm. The Catawba Indians enter the weekend just a half game behind conference co-leaders, Tusculum and Lincoln Memorial.
Both teams enter the series on a roll. Catawba has won 14 of its past 15 games and are ranked 28th in the latest Collegiate Baseball Division II poll. The Railsplitters have won nine in a row to move into a share of the league lead.
Catawba has a big edge in the overall series with LMU, winning 27 of the previous 32 match-ups. The teams first met in 2004 and the Indians were victorious in the first 12 meetings. At Newman Park, Catawba holds a 13-2 edge and have won seven straight. The last LMU win here was in 2009. The Railsplitters won two of three in the regular season last year.
Blake Houston swung a hot bat for the Indians last week, earning both South Atlantic Conference and NCBWA Region Player of the Weeks honors. The senior hit .571 for the week with nine RBI and eight runs scored. He collected three hits in Tuesday’s win over Shippensburg which sent him over the 200 mark for hits in his career.
Equally hot has been catcher Will Albertson. The junior finished up the Lenoir-Rhyne series with a pair of four hit games and joined Houston and T.J. Wharton with three hits vs. Shippensburg. Albertson is batting .421 with a team-high six homers and 28 RBI. Wharton leads the team with .469 average that includes seven doubles and four home runs.
Catawba’s pitching staff has allowed just 61 runs and sports a league best 2.80 ERA. Shaefer Shepard (4-1) and Connor Johnson (4-0) have each won four of their six starts. Shepard has a 2.83 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 35 innings. Johnson, a freshman, has fanned 27 in 28 frames.
Craig Brooks (3-1) has limited opponents to just a .130 batting average in his six starts. The senior has surrendered just 17 hits with 11 walks over 37 and a third innings. Brooks has struck out 52 batters. Ryan McClintock has recorded four saves in 10 appearances.
Lincoln Memorial is one of the top hitting teams in the SAC. The Railsplitters will enter the series with a .319 team average. Logan Augustine heads the offense. He is batting .406 with five stolen bases. Ryan Burlison, who also serves as the closer, is hitting at a .397 clip and has hit three home runs.
The LMU starters do not feature low ERA’s, but have gotten enough offensive support. Wes Todd is 3-1 despite an 8.51 ERA and has allowed 33 hits over 24 and a third innings. Grant Painter sits at 2-2 with an 8.31 ERA and Brandon Jean is 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA. Those three have combined on 16 of the 19 starts.
Nick Morabito has come out of the pen and is 3-0 with a 4.09 ERA. Burlison has notched four saves with a 2.79 ERA. Opponents are batting .312 against the Railsplitter staff.
LMU is coming off a sweep of Carson-Newman last weekend. The Eagles have the second best ERA for a staff in the SAC and the Railsplitters took wins of 7-6, 6-5 and 16-5 over C-N. Lincoln Memorial has scored 10 or more runs in five of the nine games in its current streak.
The Indians will hit the road for eight of its next nine games after this weekend. Following a non-conference tilt at Barton on Tuesday, Catawba heads to Anderson for its next league series. The Indians’ next home contest will be against nationally-ranked Mount Olive on March 24 at 4 pm.
|No events scheduled until September 5|