Baseball

Baseball Drops Opener at NCAA Regional

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. -- Catawba fell to 28th-ranked UNC Pembroke 6-2 on Thursday night in its opening game of the NCAA II Southeast Region Baseball Tournament being held at Mount Olive’s Scarborough Field.  The Braves improve to 41-15 and will face host Mount Olive on Friday at 3 pm.  Catawba, ranked 30th in NCAA II, falls to 37-16 and will next play on Saturday at 3 pm against the loser of Friday’s game between North Georgia and USC Aiken.

Drew Beaver delivered the big blow in the eighth with a two-out, three-run double to stake the Braves to the 6-2 lead.  Conner Johnson (Rockwell, N.C./E. Rowan) relieved Catawba starter Russ Weiker (Albemarle, N.C./S. Stanly/Liberty) to start the eighth and hit the first batter he faces.  Two bunt singles followed to load the bases.

Johnson came back to get a foul out and a strikeout before Beaver’s big hit.  Beaver fouled off a pair of 1-2 pitches before his bases-clearing double to right center.

Anthony Burke improved to 11-1 with hit complete game effort.  He scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out five.  Weiker (4-4) took the loss, giving up three runs off five hits over seven frames.  He walked one and fanned one.

Nick Debo’s two-out double drove home the first run for UNCP in the top of the first.  Catawba answered that run in the bottom half of the inning as Kyle Smith’s (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) two-out double plated Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan).

The Braves regained the lead in the sixth, scoring again with two outs.  Hayden Buffkin did the damage with a two-run homer.  Catawba got a run back in the seventh as Nick Coble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Florence-Darlington) hit a sacrifice fly after back-to-back one-out singles by Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) and Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler).

Setzer, Smith and Fowler had two hits each for Catawba.  Setzer upped his hitting streak to 21 games, a season high for a Catawba batter, bettering the 20-game streak that Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) enjoyed earlier this season.

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