Baseball Knocks Out Mars Hill at SAC Tournament


KODAK, Tenn. -- Catawba moved into Sunday’s winner’s bracket final with an 11-1 win over fourth-seeded Mars Hill at the 2017 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.  The top-seeded Catawba Indians, ranked 20th in NCAA II, win for the 10th straight time and improve to 37-12.  The Lions are eliminated from the tournament and fall to 29-21.  Catawba will face either Lincoln Memorial or Newberry on Sunday at 3:45 pm.

The bulk of the scoring came over the middle innings as Catawba scored three in the fourth, four in the fifth and three more in the sixth.  Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) doubled with two outs in the fourth and came in to score the first run on a single by Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian).  Nick Coble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Florence-Darlington) followed with a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead.

Mars Hill got an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth, but Catawba came right back in the fifth.  Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) brought home a run on an infield single then the Indians stretched the lead to 7-1 on a three-run blast by Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury).

Hunter Shepherd (Salisbury, N.C./Homeschool) was in control on the mound.  He surrendered only three hits over six and a third innings and walked one.  Shepherd moved to 8-0 on the year as he fanned three. 

Cody Fitch (Shelby, N.C./Shelby/UNCG) followed Shepherd with an inning and a third of scoreless relief.  He allowed a hit, walked two and struck out one.  Michael Elwell (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) closed it out.  He allowed a walk over an inning a third and fanned the side in the ninth.

The Indians rapped out a dozen hits on the afternoon.  Almond, Bowden, Fowler and Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan).  Setzer and Jacob Nester (Kernersville, N.C./E. Forsyth/Chowan) padded the lead with RBI doubles.

Mars Hill was limited to four hits, but did draw four walked and were hit twice.  The Lions stranded 11 base-runners.  Matt Honeycutt scored the lone run on an error after opening the fourth with a double.  Caleb Edwards (3-1) took the loss as he allowed seven runs on eight hits over five innings.

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