April 23, 2016
Baseball Claims Fourth Straight SAC Crown
WINGATE, N.C. -- Catawba swept a South Atlantic Conference baseball doubleheader at Wingate on Saturday afternoon at Christopher Stadium and with the wins claim a fourth straight conference title. The Catawba Indians won by the scores of 10-3 and 5-3 to improve to 31-16 overall and 17-6 in the SAC. The Bulldogs fall to 27-20 and 11-12.
Shaefer Shepard (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton/Francis Marion) threw a complete game for Catawba in the opener. The junior gave up seven hits, walked none and fanned 10. Only two of the three runs he allowed were earned and he got all the run support he would need with a five-run third.
With one out, Catawba strung together four straight hits to take a lead it never surrendered. Jake Kimble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Liberty) singled to open the inning then scored on Luke Setzer's (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan) one-out double.
Will Albertson (Sophia, N.C./Randleman/Campbell) singled home Setzer and following a Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) double, Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) tripled home two for a 4-0 edge. Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) capped the outburst with a two-out single to score Hanes.
Shepard (5-4) breezed through seven innings allowing just three hits. A one-out single in the second was erased on a double play ground out and he worked out of a second and third, one-out jam in the third without any damage. After the one-out double by Bailey Connell in the third, Shepard sat down 14 in a row before Tyler Simmons broke up the shutout bid with a leadoff homer in the eighth for Wingate.
Bowden got a run home in the seventh on a sacrifice fly and the Indians used a pair of Bulldog errors to score three in the eighth. Hanes capped Catawba's scoring with a home run in the ninth. Setzer, Albertson and Hanes all had three hits for Catawba.
The teams were tied 2-2 after three innings of the nightcap before Catawba pushed across three runs in a decisive fourth inning. Albertson, who had homered in the first, led off the fourth with a single and went to third on Hanes' double. Bowden's grounder broke the tie and Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) singled home Hanes. Two Bulldog errors would help bring Smith home.
Sean Grant pitched into the fifth to get the win in game two and improve to 3-1. Only one of the three runs he allowed was earned as he scattered six hits with four strikeouts. Grant was lifted after a two-out hit by Bradley Brown trimmed Catawba's lead to 5-3.
Avery Bowles (Thomasville, E. Davidson) got the Indians out of the fifth and Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) came on after Heath Mitchem (Salisbury, N.C./Carson) allowed a leadoff single in the sixth to post the two-inning save.
Blanton immediately induced a double play grounder and struck out Matthew Grecco after allowing a hit and a walk. Shane Billings opened the seventh with a single, but Blanton got a fly out and another double play to clinch the win and earn his eighth save.
Albertson collected two more hits in the nightcap. Smith also had two hits. Simmons had two hits for Wingate.
Catawba becomes the first school to claim four consecutive regular season conference baseball crowns and will be the top seed in next week's conference tournament at the Smokies Stadium in Kodiak, Tenn. The Indians will play the noon game on Friday against the lowest remaining seed from Thursday's play-in games.
|No events scheduled until September 5|