Baseball Heads to Mount Olive Monday to Close Regular Season


SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba will close out its regular season later today as the baseball team travels to Mount Olive at 5 p.m.  The Catawba Indians enter with a 40-12 record, while the Trojans are 35-14.

Both Catawba and Mount Olive will have to rely on at-large berths to get into next weekend’s NCAA II Southeast Regional Tournament.  Catawba likely secured its bid with two wins over USC Aiken last weekend.  The Indians were first in last week’s poll which did not include the SAC Championship game results.  Mount Olive was fifth in the most recent poll and only four spots are open since Wingate and North Greenville have already locked down automatic berths.

The teams met earlier this year in Salisbury with Mount Olive claiming a 12-10 victory.  The Trojans jumped out to a 10-2 lead after two and half innings and held off a late Catawba charge.  Joe Koehler homered and drove in three for Mount Olive.  Justin Manning also drove in three, while Zak Orrison and Stephen Wallace had three hits.  Will Albertson had five hits with a home run and collected three RBI for the Indians.  Blake Houston and Luke Setzer each had three hits.

Catawba won two tight battles with USC Aiken to reach 40 wins for the seventh time in school history.  On Friday, the Indians prevailed in 12 innings on a sacrifice fly by T.J. Wharton.  Emmitt Carden was hit by a pitch, went to second on a passed ball and was sacrificed to third prior to Wharton’s fly ball.  Craig Brooks pitched into the eighth and allowed a run on seven hits with 12 strikeouts.  Bryan Blanton pitched the final two innings, fanning five and getting a fly out with the bases loaded to end the game.

The Indians rallied from a 6-4 deficit with three runs in the eight to win Saturday’s game.  Houston scored the tying run on a wild pitch and Wharton came through for the second straight day with a RBI single to put Catawba on top.  Avery Bowles got the win in relief as he allowed a run over two innings.  Blanton came in with a runner on in the ninth and retired Aiken’s 3-4-5 batters in order for the save.

Mount Olive has been idle since being bounced out of the Conference Carolinas Tournament with two opening losses.  The Trojans will need to jump over either UNC Pembroke, Columbus State, North Georgia or Catawba to have a chance to make the regional field.

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