April 22, 2017
Baseball Claims SAC Crown For Fifth Straight Season
SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba claimed its fifth straight South Atlantic Conference baseball crown, completing a sweep of visiting Brevard by taking both ends of Saturday afternoon’s doubleheader at Newman Park. The 23rd-ranked Catawba Indians won by the scores of 16-9 and 13-3 to improve to 35-12 overall and 19-5 in the SAC. The Tornados fall to 10-36 and 3-22.
When Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) threw a strike to Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) at first for the final out of game two, the Indians had clinched at least of share of the regular season title for an unprecedented fifth consecutive season. About an hour later, Anderson finished off a 5-0 shutout of Lincoln Memorial to push the Railsplitters one game behind Catawba, giving the Indians the outright championship.
With members of the 1992 undefeated championship team on hand, Catawba wasted little time in taking charge of the opener. Bowden doubled home two runs in the first for a 3-0 edge. Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) capped a nine-run third, that started with a Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) homer, with a three-run shot and it was 12-1.
Russ Weiker (Albemarle, N.C./S. Stanly/Liberty) pitched into the seventh on senior day to record the win and improve to 3-3. He gave up three runs on five hits with five strikeouts.
Brevard scored runs late, but never really threatened after the early deficit. Blaine Durham homered among his three hits, while Kyle Morrison and Josh Hall also connected on homers. Schuyler Martire produced three hits.
Almond had three hits for Catawba and homered twice. Bowden rapped out three hits, homered and joined Smith and Almond with three RBI. All nine Catawba starters joined in on the 15-hit attack.
Brevard made things more interesting in game two with a three-run outburst in the first. Martire led off with a home run and Durham later followed with a two-run homer. Connor Johnson (Rockwell, N.C./E. Rowan), Nick Coble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Florence-Darlington) and Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) kept the Tornados off the board after the first and Catawba stormed back.
Catawba started its rally with none on and two outs in the first after a double play. Almond was hit by a pitch, Smith walked and Bowden singled to load the bases. Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) battled back from an 0-2 count to force home a run on a nine-pitch walk then Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) laced an 0-2 pitch down the right field line to score two and tie the game. Hanes put the Indians up to stay, scoring on a wild pitch.
Jackson Raper (Concord, N.C./Robinson) led off the second with a home run and Almond produced his third long ball of the day during a four-run fourth that staked the Indians to a 9-3 lead. Luke Setzer’s Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan) two-run double in the fifth and Hanes’ two-run homer in the sixth capped the scoring.
Bowden enjoyed another three-hit performance in game two. Setzer, Fowler, Coble and Raper all had two hits. Johnson improved to 7-1 on the mound as he shutout Brevard over four and two-thirds innings on two hits with seven punch outs.
Catawba will play Belmont Abbey in non-conference action at Newman Park on Tuesday at 6 pm. The Indians will head to the SAC Tournament in Kodak as the top-seed and will play their first game on Friday at noon.
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