May 20, 2017
Bowden's Bat Helps Keep Baseball Alive at SE Regional
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. -- Catawba kept its 2017 season alive, topping 17th-ranked USC Aiken 7-4 in an elimination game of the NCAA II Southeast Region Baseball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Mount Olive’s Scarborough Field. The 30th-ranked Catawba Indians improve to 38-16 and advance to face Lincoln Memorial in another elimination game on Sunday at noon. The Pacers end their campaign at 40-15.
Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) had the big day offensively for the Indians. The junior first baseman homered, doubled twice, drove in three runs and scored twice. Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan) extended his hitting streak to 22 games with two hits and a RBI. He also threw out a Pacer runner at the plate in the sixth that would have tied the game.
The Pacers took the early lead. USCA benefitted from an error and scored a pair of runs on a two-out double by Jonathan Banks. Bowden tied the game in the second as he followed Kyle Smith’s (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) leadoff single with a two-run homer to left.
The Indians were not done after Bowden’s home run in the second, adding two more runs in the frame. Nick Coble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Florence-Darlington) walked after the homer, moved to second on a sacrifice then to third on a ground out. He scored on a passed ball and Setzer singled home Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler), who had also walked.
Bowden extended Catawba’s lead to 5-2 with a double in the third. USC Aiken rallied back in the fifth to chase Indian starter Hunter Shepherd (Salisbury, N.C./Homeschool). Luke Westerberg led off with a home runs and after a walk and single, Clay Young (Greensboro, N.C./Caldwell Academy) relieved Shepherd.
The Pacers closed within 5-4 on a sacrifice fly by Banks, but Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) threw out Nile Goings trying to move to third. Young then induced a comebacker to the mound to end the frame.
USC Aiken got the tying run to third in the sixth as Skylar Mercado walked, stole second and moved to third on a one-out error. Jose Bonilla lifted a fly ball to right and Setzer threw out Mercado at the plate to keep the Indians on top.
Catawba added some insurance runs late. Hanes hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth to score Coble. Bowden doubled to start the eighth and came around to score on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Fowler.
Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./N. Stanly) locked down the final five outs to earn his 13th save. He walked one and fanned three. Connor Johnson (Rockwell, N.C./E. Rowan) was credited with the win to improve to 8-2. He tossed two and a third innings of scoreless relief before giving way to Blanton. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out one.
Shepherd allowed four runs (two earned) over his four innings. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out four.
Christian Aragon (4-3) took the loss for Aiken. He gave four runs over two innings on four hits with a pair of walks.