Baseball On Brink Of Another SAC Championship


ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Catawba moved closer to a third straight South Atlantic Conference Championship by splitting a baseball doubleheader with Mars Hill on Saturday afternoon at Greenwood Field on the campus of UNC Asheville.  The 12th-ranked Catawba Indians bounced back from a 6-4 defeat in the opener for a 10-1 win in game two.  Catawba is now 32-9 overall and 20-5 in the SAC.  The Lions are 17-19 and 6-15.

Shaefer Shepard (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS/Francis Marion) notched his eighth win with a complete game victory in the nightcap.  He scattered six hits and gave up just one run with a walk and seven punch outs.  He moved to 8-2 on the season.

An error and a RBI single from Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan HS) put the Indians up 2-0 in the top of the second.  Mars Hill threatened in its half with a pair of singles to open the inning.  Shepard got out of it with a pair of fly outs and a force out to strand the runners.

Setzer drove in another run in the fourth and again Shepard worked around trouble to limit the Lions to a single run in their half.  A double and two singles with one out pushed a run across then Shepard induced a double play ground out to end the frame.  Tommy Scala drove in what would be the lone Lion run of the contest.

Shepard allowed just two baserunners after the fourth and T.J. Wharton (Lutz, Fla./Bishop McLaughlin HS/Guilford Tech) provided plenty of cushion with a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run shot in the seventh.

Eight of the nine players in the Catawba lineup had hits in game two with Setzer and Wharton each picking up two and accounting for seven RBI.  Dalton Eisenbath and Alex Zachary both had two hits for the Lions.  Alex Bivins (2-2) took the loss.

Mars Hill rallied for three eighth-inning runs to grab the win in the opener.  Catawba had battled back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead in the eighth on a two-out double by Dylan Richardson (Randleman, N.C./Randleman HS/Appalachian St.) that plated Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman HS/Campbell), who had doubled with one out.

In the bottom of the eighth, Eisenbath greeted Catawba reliever Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle HS) with a single and after a sacrifice, Scala singled to put men on the corners.  Jacob Rand doubled off Sean Grant (Statesville, N.C./W. Iredell HS) to tie the game and Josh Sereno singled home two off Ryan McClintock (Matthews, N.C./Providence HS) to give the Lions the lead.

Kaleb McCurry pitched the ninth to earn his third save.  He allowed a two-out single to Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, N.C./S. Rowan HS), but struck out Setzer to end the game.  Chandler Young (3-0) picked up the win in relief, giving up a run on two hits in an inning and a third.  Andy Runion started and pitched into the seventh with five strikeouts.

Albertson's RBI ground out had put the Indians up 1-0 in the first inning.  The Lions struck back in the third with a two out rally.  A pair of singles and two walks tied the score then Eisenbath singled home two runs for a 3-1 lead.

Catawba pulled within a run on a RBI single from Albertson in the fifth and tied it on a single by Houston in the seventh.  Richardson then put the Indians on top before the Mars Hill winning rally.

Brooks pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on six hits with a dozen strikeouts.  Blanton  (1-1) took the loss.  Albertson and Houston each posted three hits.  Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood HS/Presbyterian) had two hits.

Eisenbath went 3-for-4 or the Lions.  Lance Edwards had a pair of hits.

The teams will complete the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.  A Catawba win will secure its eighth SAC title in the past 12 years.

Game 1 Box

Game 2 Box

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