Baseball Heads to Regional Final After Eliminating #1 Mount Olive


MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. -- Catawba moved into Monday’s final with a 6-5 elimination game win over top-ranked Mount Olive at the 2017 NCAA II Southeast Region Baseball Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Scarborough Field.  The 30th-ranked Catawba Indians improve to 40-16 with their third straight elimination victory and will face second-seeded North Georgia in the final at 11 am.  The Nighthawks are undefeated at the regional and will have to be beaten twice.  The Trojans end their season at 48-10.

Bryan Ketchie (Woodleaf, N.C./W. Rowan) gave Catawba another solid start as the freshman pitched into the seventh and left with a 6-2 lead after issuing a two-out walk.  Mount Olive scored twice in the seventh before Cody Fitch (Shelby, N.C./Shelby/UNCG) locked down the final out of the frame with a fly out to left with runners on the corners.

Brian Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) logged a six-out save, his 14th of the season.  The junior allowed a run in the eighth then worked a perfect ninth.  He issued a leadoff walk and a two-out RBI single in the eight, but did strike out the side.  He fanned four in his outing.

Catawba produced its scoring over the first three innings, getting to Trojan starter Germain Reyes for five runs in the first two innings.  Reyes (1-1) allowed the five runs on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

The Indians scored twice in the first as both Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) and Chance Bowden (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) scored on a wild pitch.  Simpson had doubled with one out and Bowden was hit by a pitch with two outs before moving to second on a walk to Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley).

Catawba came back with three runs in the second.  After a pair of one-out walks, Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan) singled in a run which upped his hitting streak to 24 games.  Simpson laid down a squeeze bunt for a 4-0 lead and Smith drove in the final run of the inning on a bases-loaded walk.  Jacob Nester (Kernersville, N.C./E. Forsyth/Chowan) knocked in the final run of the game for the Indians on a double in the third.

Ketchie, now 7-2, allowed just one baserunner over the first three innings then had to work out of bases loaded jam in the fourth.  The freshman lefty got a line out to second and a fly out to center to escape without allowing a run. 

An error to start the fifth would lead to the first Mount Olive runs as Jose Lopez delivered a two-out, two-run single.  Ketchie stranded two with a ground out to short and another runner in the sixth after a one-out double before finally giving way to the pen.  Ketchie would allow three runs (one earned) over six and two-thirds innings.  He gave up six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Simpson had two hits for Catawba.  Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) took a home run away from Ricky Surum in the seventh, reach over the fence to make the final out for Ketchie before he surrendered the two-out walk.

Lopez went 4-for-5 in a losing effort for Mount Olive.  Surum had two hits.

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