April 12, 2015
Baseball Claims Share Of SAC Crown With Win Over Mars Hill
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Catawba claimed at least a share of the 2015 South Atlantic Conference Championship in baseball by topping Mars Hill 7-1 on Sunday afternoon at Greenwood Field on the campus of UNC Asheville. The 12th-ranked Catawba Indians improved to 33-9 overall and 21-5 in the SAC. The Lions are 17-20 and 6-16.
The Indians will head into next weekend's three-game home series with Tusculum needing one win or one loss by Newberry to take the outright crown. Catawba has now won three straight conference championships and eight in the last 12 years. Newberry will host Coker for three games next weekend.
Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, N.C./S. Rowan HS) snapped a scoreless tie when he led off the fourth with a home run. It was the seventh of the year for the senior.
Houston helped pad the lead in the sixth. He followed a leadoff single by Nick Williams (Thomasville, N.C./E. Davidson HS) with his second hit. After a sacrifice by Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood HS/Presbyterian), Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman HS/Campbell) was walked intentionally. T.J. Wharton (Lutz, Fla./Bishop McLaughlin HS/Guilford Tech) brought all the runs in with a grand slam, his third home run in two games and 10th of the year, and the Indians lead ballooned to 5-0.
Connor Johnson (Rockwell, N.C./E. Rowan HS) did not allow a run over five and two-innings of work to improve to 5-0. He surrendered three hits, walked four and struck out seven. The sixth was the only inning Mars Hill had more than one runner on and Johnson also picked off a pair of runners.
Avery Bowles (Thomasville, N.C./E. Davidson HS) replaced Johnson in the sixth with a pair of runners on and struck out pinch hitter Josh Sereno to end the inning. Craig Brooks (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood HS) singled home a run in the eighth and Williams followed a triple by Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan HS) with a RBI double in the ninth for a 7-0 lead.
Houston and Williams each had two hits for the Indians. Bowles threw two and a third innings of hitless relief with a pair of strikeouts. Ryan McClintock (Matthews, N.C./Providence HS) entered with a runner on in the ninth and posted the final three outs.
Mars Hill avoided the shutout with a run in the ninth. Harrison Hollis led off with a single and scored on hit by Phillip Carroll. Hunter Boydston (2-2) took the loss. He allowed just four hits, but two were home runs, with a pair of walks.
Catawba will host USC Aiken in non-conference action at Newman Park on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
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