May 29, 2015
Houston Sparks Baseball Into National Championship Game
CARY, N.C. -- Catawba advanced to championship day of the 2015 NCAA II Baseball National Finals, beating Cal Poly Pomona 9-6 Friday afternoon at the USA National Training Complex’s Coleman Field. The Catawba Indians advance to face top-ranked Tampa on Saturday at 3 pm as the only two teams remaining.
The Catawba Indians, ranked second in NCAA II, rebounded from Thursday’s 11-2 loss to Pomona to eliminate the Broncos and advance to the championship. Catawba improved to 47-14 and equaled the school record for wins in a season. Catawba will have to beat the Spartans twice to win its first national championship in any sport.
Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, N.C./S. Rowan HS) had four hits to lead Catawba on offense. He also drove in two runs as did Craig Brooks (Monroe, N.C./Parkwood HS). Dylan Richardson (Randleman, N.C./Randleman HS/Appalachian St.) and Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley HS) each collected three hits.
Catawba trailed three times in the game before finally taking the lead for good in the sixth on a two-out, two-run single by Brooks. The hit, with two strikes, gave the Indians a 7-6 advantage.
Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman HS/Campbell) singled home a run in the seventh and Richardson added a RBI single in the ninth to give Catawba some cushion. Brooks did not need it as he closed the game with two shutout innings for his third save. He posted five strikeouts, including fanning the side in the ninth around a walk and a single.
Pomona jumped out early with two runs in the second on two-out RBI singles from Jacob Bernardy and Kyle Garlick. Catawba answered in the third on a RBI double from Houston and a sacrifice fly by Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler HS). The Broncos went right back on top in the bottom half of the inning on a two-run homer by Mike Philp.
A pair of errors by CPP in the fourth helped Catawba tie the game again. Houston singled home a run with two outs and Smith later scored from third on a failed pickoff throw at first. Smith gave Catawba its first lead with a single in the fifth.
It was a two-out Catawba error in the bottom of the fifth that helped Pomona retake the lead. Following the error, Nicholas Bruno and Bernardy singled home runs to put the Broncos up 6-5. Houston and Richardson started the Catawba sixth with singles. The Broncos got two outs on fielder’s choices around a walk to set the stage for Brooks. The senior came through with a single to center that put the Indians on top to stay.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pomona had runners at second and third with no outs after a single by Philp and a double by Ryan Webberley. Michael Elwell (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman HS) got an out on a liner to third then the Broncos ran themselves out of the inning after a fly ball to right field when Philp strayed off third on a strong throw to home by Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan HS). The throw caught Philp halfway home and Webberley between second and third. Philp was eventually tagged out to end the threat.
Ryan McClintock (Matthews, N.C./Providence HS) picked up the win to improve to 6-0. He was the first of three relievers to keep the Broncos scoreless after the fifth. J.J. Franklin (0-3) took the loss in relief for Pomona.
Catawba rapped out 15 hits in the win after being held hitless by Pomona for six innings in Thursday’s loss. Webberley led the Broncos at the plate with three this. Philp and Bernardy each had two. Pomona ends its season at 46-17.
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