April 28, 2017
Baseball Rolls to Opening Win at SAC Tournament
KODAK, Tenn. -- Catawba (36-12) opened play that 2017 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament with an 11-2 win over seventh-seeded Carson-Newman on Friday afternoon at Smokies Stadium. The top-seeded and 20th-ranked Catawba Indians will next face the loser of tonight’s game between Newberry and Mars Hill on Saturday at 3:45 pm. The Eagles (26-23) will face either Tusculum or Lincoln Memorial in an elimination game on Saturday at noon.
The Indians amassed 17 hits and used a seven-run seventh to stretch a 4-1 edge to 11-1. The first nine Catawba batters of the seventh reached and the scoring started on a two-run homer by SAC Player of the Year Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan).
Catawba jumped out to a 2-0 lead after an inning, stringing together four straight hits after there were two outs and none on. Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) and Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) singled to set the table, while Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) and Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) singled home the runs.
Almond finished with four hits, while Bowden and Fowler collected three hits. Bowden drove in three runs and Fowler two. Setzer and Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) also knocked in a pair of runs.
While the offense was clicking, starter Russ Weiker (Albemarle, N.C./S. Stanly/Liberty) limited the Eagles to one hit over the first five innings. That hit was a leadoff double by Cade Snapp in the second, but Weiker came back with three straight out, fanning the final two, to escape.
Two singles to open the sixth led to a sacrifice fly by Paul Kirby to make it 4-1 before Catawba erupted for its big inning to put the game away. Weiker allowed a run on three this over his six frames to move to 4-3. He walked one and struck out two.
Carson-Newman made some noise in the eighth, loading the bases with one out. Clay Young (Greensboro, N.C./Caldwell Academy) came on to get a pop up and line out to keep the lead at 10 runs. He tossed a scoreless eighth before giving way to Ryan Kahny (High Point, N.C./Central) for the ninth.
Ryan Eberle (4-7) was touched for the loss for C-N. He surrendered eight runs on 14 hits over five-plus innings. Snapp and Ryan Addington both had two hits, accounting for four of the six on the day for the Eagles.
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