Albertson Drives In Four as Baseball Tops Anderson in SAC Tourney Opener


FOREST CITY, N.C. -- Top-seeded Catawba, ranked 12th in NCAA II, opened play at the 2015 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament with a 12-2 win over Anderson on Friday afternoon at McNair Field.  The Catawba Indians improve to 36-10 and will face either Tusculum or Lincoln Memorial on Saturday at 3:45 pm.  The Trojans, seeded sixth, fall to 21-29 and will face an elimination game on Saturday.

Catawba got out quickly as Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, N.C./S. Rowan HS) walked to lead off the Indian first and Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley HS) doubled.  Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman HS/Campbell) singled them home for a 2-0 edge.  Albertson would score on an error to make it 3-0 after an inning. 

Anderson, who had left the bases loaded in the first, got on the board in the second on a one-out home run by Nick Bernardo to make it 3-1.  Catawba would break the game open with a five-run third.

With two outs in the third, Dylan Richardson (Randleman, N.C./Randleman HS/Appalachian St.) doubled home Smith and Albertson, who had walked and singled, respectively.  Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury HS) singled home Richardson and Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan HS) capped the inning with a two-run homer for an 8-1 lead. 

That run support would be enough for Craig Brooks (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood HS) and four relievers.  Brooks, who improved to 9-1, went just five innings due to a hefty pitch count.  The senior gave up one run on five hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts.  He threw 109 pitches.

After Sean Grant (Statesville, N.C./W. Iredell HS) tossed a hitless sixth with a pair of strikeouts, Avery Bowles (Thomasville, N.C/E. Davidson HS) limited an Anderson threat in the seventh to just one run.  The Trojans had loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles before Bowles came back to limit Anderson to just a sacrifice fly.

Catawba tacked on four runs late.  T.J. Wharton (Lutz, Fla./Bishop McLauglin/Guilford Tech) singled home a run in the seventh and Albertson singled home two more in the eighth. 

Albertson finished with three hits and four RBI.  He became just the second Catawba player to drive in 80 runs in a season and is five off Jerry Sands’ record of 85.  Wharton had a pair of hits and Smith scored four runs in the win.  Brooks was the only player in the lineup without a hit.

LJ Newman posted three hits for the Trojans.  Steven Cooper had two hits.  Chris Ayers (2-2) took the loss as he went just three innings and fanned five.

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