March 4, 2016
Smith Ends 13-Inning Marathon With Walk-Off Walk
SALISBURY, N.C. -- Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 13th inning as Catawba topped visiting Tusculum 8-7 in a marathon South Atlantic Conference baseball contest on Friday night at Newman Park. The game matched the longest game played between the two teams as Tusculum won a 13-inning game in 2014 at Tusculum 9-8. With the win, the Catawba Indians improve to 8-7 overall and 2-2 in the SAC, while the Pioneers fall to 11-5 and 0-1.
Dylan Richardson (Randleman, N.C./Randleman/Appalachian St.) started the 13th for Catawba with a single to left and went to second when the throw to the infield got away. Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Bulter) followed with a single off the glove of Tusculum pitcher Dillon Hardy to put runners on the corners.
Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) was intentionally walked to load the bases for Smith. Smith fell behind the count 0-2 before taking the next four pitches to produce the winning run.
Catawba twice battled back from two runs down in the final two regularly scheduled innings. Down 5-3 in the eighth, Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) singled with two outs to bring leadoff hitter Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman/Campbell) to the plate. The senior drilled a two-run homer to center to pull the Indians even.
Tusculum took the lead right back in the top of the ninth when Creighton Wilke's chopper to first with the bases loaded popped out of the glove of a leaping Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) to score a pair of runs. Catawba was able to rally again to send the game to extra innings.
A Tusculum miscue started the ninth when a fly ball to center off the bat of Jake Kimble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Liberty) was dropped. Ryan Watts was able to get the next two Catawba batters out, but Hanes drew a walk and Fowler hit a hard shot to first that was not handled to bring in one run. Smith then pulled a single into right to score Hanes.
DJ Laxton (Asheboro, N.C./E. Randolph) got the win in relief for the Indians as he tossed four and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball. He entered in the ninth to face Wilke and after allowing two infield hits, he retired nine straight until a two-out walk in the 12th.
Richardson led Catawba with three hits and put the Indians on top early with a two-run triple down the right field line in the bottom of the first. Albertson had two hits and also walked twice. Fowler went 2-for-2 after entering as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Simpson and Hanes also had two hits with Simpson doubling home a run for Catawba in the fourth for a 3-1 lead.
The Pioneers erased the 3-1 deficit with a four-run sixth. Tusculum started the sixth with a hit batter and a walk then loaded the bases when Richardson couldn't find the bag at first on a sacrifice attempt. Wilke tied the game with a two-run single. Tusculum took the lead when Tandon Dorn drew a bases-loaded walk and went up 5-3 on a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Glore.
Neither starter factored in the decision and both could have had better help from their defense as Tusculum committed five errors. Catawba made one error, but also lost a routine fly ball that fell for a double to lead to the first Pioneer run.
Placido Torres entered the game for the Pioneers with a 4-0 record and a 0.30 ERA. He gave up three runs over six and two-thirds innings with only one run being earned. He fanned 12 and threw 138 pitches. Watts followed Torres and pitched through the 12th. He allowed four runs (two earned) over five and a third innings. Watts also fanned 12 and threw 112 pitches.
Shaefer Shepard (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton/Francis Marion) pitched into the sixth for Catawba. He would allow four runs (three earned) off six hits with six strikeouts. Avery Bowles (Thomasville, N.C./E. Davidson) tossed two scoreless innings for the Indians and allowed just one hit.
John Topoleski had four hits in a losing effort for Tusculum. The Pioneers stranded a dozen runners, while Catawba left 18 runners on base. The game lasted four hours and 50 minutes. The teams will finish the series with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 pm.
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