April 2, 2015
Baseball Hosts Wingate For Three-Game Set Starting Friday
SALISBURY, N.C. -- The Catawba baseball team rides a 12-game conference winning streak into this weekend's home series with Wingate. The Catawba Indians hold a two game lead over Tusculum in the league standings with nine games remaining.
Wingate and Catawba first met in baseball way back in 1927. The teams played three times over a two-year span with the Indians claiming wins in all three. It was 1980 before the teams would match up again after the Bulldogs moved up from being a two-year institution.
Catawba holds a 69-59 edge over the 128 previous meetings. The Indians are 8-2 against the Bulldogs over the last two years and took four of five meetings last season, including a 10-0 victory for the SAC Tournament title in the most recent contest.
After falling to Pfeiffer Tuesday, Catawba roared back to smash Winston-Salem State 19-1 on Wednesday. Will Albertson highlighted the win as he tied a school record with eight RBI. The junior had four hits which including two home runs, one being a grand slam. Chance Bowden also homered and extended his hitting streak to 17 games, most by an Indian this season.
Wingate enters the weekend having lost four straight. The Bulldogs were swept by Newberry at home last weekend then fell to nationally-ranked UNC Pembroke on Tuesday. The loss to UNCP was the first non-conference loss of the year for Wingate.
The Bulldogs sport one of the top offenses in the SAC, ranking second behind Catawba with 299 runs scored and a team batting average of .324. Wingate leads the league with 56 home runs and tops the league with a .535 slugging percentage.
Thomas Spitz is the leading offensive weapon for Wingate. He is hitting for a .352 average and enjoys team highs in home runs (11) and RBI (46). Shane Billings leads the team with a .405 average and his 48 runs scored is second to Spitz's 49.
Like Wingate, Catawba sends a potent arsenal to the plate. The Indians are averaging nearly 10 runs a game and eight of nine regulars are hitting over .300.
Albertson leads the attack, batting an even .500 after 34 games . He is eyeing possible season records in home runs and RBI. Albertson has already hit 16 home runs and driven in 60.
T.J. Wharton is hitting .440 on the year with seven home runs and Blake Houston follows with a .407 average. Houston entered the week as the national leader in walks and has scored 51 runs on the year.
Shaefer Shepard and Craig Brooks anchor the weekend staff and both sport 7-1 records. Shepard has a .3.56 ERA and has tossed three complete games. Brooks has surrendered just 28 hits in 62 innings and has fanned 100 batters on the season. He has an ERA of just 1.16.
The teams are set to open the series on Friday at 6 pm. The three-game set concludes with a 3 pm doubleheader on Saturday.
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