Rally Against Aiken Gives Baseball 40 Wins on the Year


AIKEN, S.C. -- Catawba came from behind to grab an 8-6 win over USC Aiken in baseball action on Saturday afternoon at Hernandez Stadium.  The ninth-ranked Catawba Indians improve to 40-12, while the Pacers drop to 33-16.

The Indians used a three-run eighth to erase a 6-4 deficit to sweep the two-game series.  T.J. Wharton's (Lutz, Fla./Bishop McLaughlin HS/Guilford Tech) two-out single up the middle put Catawba on top.  Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan HS) singled home an insurance run in the ninth and Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle HS) recorded the final three outs for his first save.

Catawba led 3-1 after an inning and a half, but saw Aiken rally.  Craig Brooks (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood HS) singled home a run in the first for the Indians and a second run scored on an error.  Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, N.C./S. Rowan HS), who had singled and scored in the first, doubled home a run in the second for the 3-1 edge.

Aiken tied the score with two outs in the bottom of the second.  A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases and the Pacers would plate a pair of runs on an error.  TJ Costen led off the fifth with a walk and stole second.  Ty Barkell singled him home to give the Pacers the lead at 4-3.

USC Aiken loaded the bases in the sixth with no outs, but Shaefer Shepard (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS/Francis Marion) limited the damage to just a single run to keep Catawba in the game.  The Indians loaded the bases in the top of the seventh and got a run on a single by Craig Brooks (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood HS).  Joe Marlow would strike out the final two batters of the inning to keep the Pacers in the lead.

The Pacers got that run back in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out single by Sean Miller.

In the Catawba eighth, Setzer drew a one-out walk and Houston singled him to third.  Kyle Smith’s (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley HS) infield single plated a run and Houston went to third.  After a fly out, Houston scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.  Wharton then singled home Smith to put the Indians on top.

Catawba would load the bases with no outs in the ninth and get an insurance run on a single by Setzer.  Aiken got a leadoff double by Kody Belcher, but Blanton came on to face the middle of the order and he retired all three batters he faced.

Avery Bowles (Thomasville, N.C./E. Davidson HS) picked up the win in relief to improve to 4-1.  He gave up one run off three hits over two innings.  Shepard tossed six frames and scattered seven hits with three strikeouts.  Only three of the five runs he allowed were earned.

Houston collected three hits for the Indians, who collected 16 hits as a team in the win.  Brooks had two hits and two RBI, while Wharton, Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman HS/Campbell), Dylan Richardson (Randleman, N.C./Randleman HS/Appalachian St.) and Austin Stilley (Thomasville, N.C./Ledford HS) also had two hits.

Miller produced three hits for USC Aiken.  Barkell had a pair of hits.  Sam Daniel (0-1) took the loss in relief as he gave up two runs and four hits in just two-thirds of an inning.  Ben Black made the start and allowed three runs (two earned) off eight hits over six innings.  He fanned four.

Catawba will close out its regular season on Monday at Mount Olive at 6 pm.

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