Simpson and Young Key As Baseball Rallies Past Tusculum


GREENEVILLE, Tenn. -- Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) doubled home three runs in the top of the ninth as 27th-ranked Catawba rallied for a 7-6 win over Tusculum in South Atlantic Conference baseball action on Friday night at Pioneer Park.  The Catawba Indians improve to 28-12 overall and 14-5 in the SAC, taking the opening game of a three-game series among two of the four league co-leaders.  The Pioneers fall to 24-13 and 13-6.

Tusculum led 6-1 after three innings and took a 6-4 edge to the ninth.  Reliever Chase McAllister (1-1), who had gotten the Pioneers out of a jam in the eighth, walked the bases loaded to start the ninth.  Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley), Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) and Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) drew those walks.

McKenly Berry came in for Tusculum and posted a strikeout and a flyout to get the Pioneers within an out of a win.  Simpson stepped in and laced a double to right center that cleared the bases and gave the Indians a 7-6 lead.  Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) got the first two outs of the ninth then after a single, struck out the final batter for his 11th save.

Simpson had just one hit on the night, but had four RBI as he added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to help cut the deficit to 6-3.  The Indians pulled within 6-4 in the seventh as Smith scored on a throwing error after an infield hit by Hanes. 

A one-out walk by Simpson in the eighth was followed by Luke Setzer's double to put the tying runs in scoring position for Catawba.  McAllister, who had allowed the double, struck out the next two Indians to keep Tusculum on top until the ninth.

The Pioneers jumped out quickly, scoring three times in the first.  John Topoleski singled home the final two runs.  Two more runs crossed the plate in the second before Connor Johnson (Rockwell, N.C./E. Rowan) got the Indians out of the inning. 

Clay Young (Greensboro, N.C./Caldwell Academy) threw five shutout innings to keep Catawba within striking distance.  He improved to 3-0, allowing just two hits with a walk and five strikeouts.  Nick Coble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Florence-Darlington) helped cut down a Pioneer runner at the plate in the seventh on a relay by Simpson.

Bradley Evans and Edison Cabrera had three hits for Tusculum.  Ethan Carpenter logged 144 pitches over seven and a third innings and did not factor in the decision.  He allowed 10 hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.  Two of the four runs he allowed were unearned. 

The teams will complete the series with a Saturday doubleheader at 1 pm.

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