Wild Pitch Sends Baseball to NCAA II Championships


THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Emmitt Carden scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to send Catawba College to the 2015 NCAA II Baseball Championships after a 1-0 win over North Georgia to claim the Southeast Region Championship.  The top-seeded Catawba Indians, ranked 12th in NCAA II, improve to 44-13.  The Nighthawks, ranked 17th, end their season at 38-17.

Catawba advances to the NCAA II Championships which will be held May 23-30 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.  The Catawba Indians will face the East Region Champions on Saturday night at 7 pm for its first game of the double-elimination tournament.

North Georgia starter Dylan Peppers worked into the ninth on two days rest and kept the top-seeded Indians scoreless until the final inning.  Peppers had sat down Catawba in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings before Austin Stilley drew a leadoff walk in the ninth to chase the Nighthawk starter after 125 pitches.

Will Albertson greeted reliever Taylor Keinat with a two-strike single to right field that sent Carden, pinch running for Stilley, to third.  The hit, his 107th, set the single-season school record.  The Nighthawks elected to intentionally walk T.J. Wharton to load the bases with no outs to face Dylan Richardson.  On the second offering to Richardson, Keinat's pitch went to the backstop and allowed Carden to race home from third with the game's only run.

Each team had only eight base runners in the game with Catawba getting three in the ninth.  The Indians nearly scored in the fourth.  Richardson singled with two outs and Craig Brooks followed with a double to left.  Brooks' deep fly bounded off the hill in left over the fence for a ground rule double sending Richardson, who likely would have scored, back to third.  Peppers recorded one of his five strikeouts to end the frame.

The only runner to reach base from the fourth until the ninth for Catawba was Luke Setzer, who walked with one out in the fifth.  Peppers (7-3) took the loss, allowing just the run on four hits with two walks and the five strikeouts.  Sam Tidaback picked up two of the four Nighthawks hits.

Sean Grant earned the start for Catawba and did not factor in the decision.  He blanked North Georgia for seven innings on just two hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts.  He threw two perfect innings to start the game then got out of jam in the third after one out singles from Tidaback and Devin Gearhart with a double play ground out to short.

A two-out error and a walk in the fifth gave North Georgia another runner in scoring position, but Grant fanned Gearhart to end the inning.  One of the biggest plays came in the eighth when Tidaback sliced a liner down the right field line, but was erased at second on a perfect throw by Setzer. The last base runner for the Nighthawks came in the ninth on an infield single by Tremayne Toorie.  He was doubled off on a line drive to third then Catawba won it in the ninth.

Avery Bowles and Ryan McClintock completed the shutout in relief of Grant.  Bowles allowed a hit and walked a batter in two thirds of an inning, while McClintock posted the final four outs and got the win to improve to 5-0.  Richardson collected two of Catawba's five hits.

The win marks the second regional championship for Catawba, who also advance to Cary and the NCAA II Championships in 2012.  Catawba went 2-2 in the tournament.

2015 Southeast Region All-Tournament Team
1B - Chance Bowden, Catawba
2B - Joey Cecere, North Georgia
3B - Devin Gearhart, North Georgia
SS - Connor Hoover, North Georgia
C - Will Albertson, Catawba
OF - Bill Krebs, Wingate
OF - Jason Morozowski, Mount Olive
OF - Austin Stilley, Catawba
DH - Travis Naraine, North Georgia
P - Jimmy Doolittle, Wingate
P - Gunner Kines, Mount Olive
MOP - Will Albertson, Catawba

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