Baseball Suffers 12-Inning Loss to Open Regional Play


COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Belmont Abbey tied the game in the bottom of the ninth then won it on Lorenzo Wright's bases loaded single in the 12th as the Crusaders downed Catawba 6-5 in an opening round game of the 2016 NCAA II Southeast Region Baseball Tournament in a contest that finished in the early hours of Friday morning at Burger King Stadium on the campus of Columbus State University.  With the win, the third-seeded and 15th-ranked Crusaders (39-14-1) advance to face Lander on Friday at 5:30 pm.  Catawba (34-20), seeded sixth, falls into an elimination game which is schedule just hours away at 10:30 am against Mount Olive.

Rain and lightning during the middle game of Thursday's action pushed the first pitch time back to just before 11 pm.  Dylan Richardson gave Catawba a quick lead as he homered to lead off the game.  Kyle Smith would single home a second run with a two-out single as the Indians grabbed a 2-0 edge.

Shaefer Shepard fanned 10 over the first six innings, but the three hits he allowed to that point left the yard to give Belmont Abbey a 4-2 lead.  Kayden Krause homered with one-out in the first and Nick Beinlich followed a walk in the third with his homer and a 3-2 lead for the Crusaders.  Thomas Yoder homered in the sixth.

Catawba had chances against Belmont Abbey starter Blake Waldren, but standed eight over the first five frames.  Walden would pitch into the sixth, going five and two-thirds and allowing two runs (one earned).  He walked five and struck out six on 129 pitches.

The Indians finally broke through in the seventh off the Crusader pen.  Will Albertson had led off with a double then scored on a two-out infield single by Smith.  Zach Almond followed with a single to put runners on the corners and Simpson walked to load the bases.  Luke Setzer greeted the first pitch from reliever Ryan Craig for a two-run single and a 5-4 Catawba lead.

Shepard struck out a career-high 12 batters through eight innings and would walk Lorenzo Wright to open the ninth.  After a sacrifice, Bryan Blanton walked two batters to load the bases.  DJ Laxton entered to face Nick Beinlich, who singled to the gap in right.  The hit tied the game, but a relay throw by Richardson cut down Matt McGarry at the plate to keep the game going.  Laxton struck out Krause to sent the game to extra innings.

Shepard would surrender just the three hits in his 131 pitch effort.  He walked four to go with a dozen strikeouts.  Richardson, Smith and Simpson each had a pair of hits for the Indians, who out-hit Belmont Abbey 11-6, but left a dozen on base.  All but one of the runners came over the first seven innings.

Kyle Halbohn (6-1) grabbed the win for the Crusaders.  He threw the final five innings and allowed just two base runners.  Jake Kimble leadoff the 11th with a single and Emmitt Carden reached after striking out to start the 12th.  Halbohn fanned nine.  

In the 12th for Belmont Abbey, Colin Rosenbaum singled with one out and Nick Nunziato was hit by a pitch.  Yoder walked to load the bases and Wright's single to center won it.

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