Baseball

Baseball's Regional Run Ends With Loss to #6 North Georgia

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. -- Andres Perez hit a tiebreaking home run with two-outs in the bottom of the eighth to left second-seeded North Georgia to a 5-4 win over Catawba to claim the title at the 2017 NCAA II Southeast Region Baseball Tournament on Monday afternoon at Mount Olive’s Scarborough Field.  The sixth-ranked Nighthawks improve to 46-10 and advance to the National Finals in Grand Prairie, Texas.  The 30th-ranked Catawba Indians end their season at 40-17.

Catawba battled back from three runs down after six and a 4-2 deficit after seven innings to pull even on Nick Coble’s (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Florence-Darlington) two-out double in the top of the eighth.  Perez then broke the tie in the bottom half with his home run on a 2-2 pitch with two outs.

The Indians got a leadoff hit from Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) in the ninth, but Like Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan) grounded into a double play and Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) flied to left to end the game.

Nighthawk starter and tournament MVP, Dylan Peppers, kept Catawba off the scoreboard for six innings as UNG built a 3-0 edge.  Perez opened the scoring, driving in a run on single in the third.  Michael Gouge singled home a run in the fifth and Conner Corbitt scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.

Catawba started its rally in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs.  Simpson singled home a run and a sacrifice fly by Setzer cut the margin to 3-2.  Catawba could not pull even, stranding two runners.

North Georgia added a run in the bottom of the seventh as Bill Leroy doubled home Gouge.  Catawba would tie the game in the eighth.  Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) singled with two outs and after a throw home, an error trying to get Fowler moving to second was thrown away to allow Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) to score.  Coble followed with his double before Perez’s home run put the Nighthawks up to stay.

Simpson went 3-for-4 for Catawba, while Smith had two hits.  Setzer was held hitless, ending his 24-game hitting streak which is the fourth longest streak in school history.  He is just the fourth player to amass 100 hits in a season, finishing with 102.  He joins Will Albertson (114), Craige Lyerly (106) and David Thomas (101 & 100), who did it twice.

Russ Weiker (Albemarle, N.C./S. Stanly/Liberty) went five innings for Catawba, allowing two runs on four hits with a pair of strikeouts.  Michael Elwell (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) took the loss and fell to 0-3.  He allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits over two and two-thirds innings.  

Perez and Leroy each had two hits for the Nighthawks.  Peppers threw six shutout innings on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.  Jack Fleming (1-0) got the win as he recorded the final out of the eighth and surrendered one unearned run on three hits.

Setzer and Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) were named to the Southeast Region All-Tournament team from Catawba.  Perez, Peppers and Connor Hoover were named from North Georgia.

Southeast Region All-Tournament Team
C - Andres Perez, North Georgia
1B - Drew Ellis, Mount Olive
2B - Seth Hunt, Lincoln Memorial
3B - Cal Gentry, Georgia College
SS - Connor Hoover, North Georgia
OF - Logan Augustine, Lincoln Memorial
OF - Luke Setzer, Catawba
OF - Nick Debo, UNC Pembroke
P - Dylan Peppers, North Georgia
P - Bryan Blanton, Catawba

MVP - Dylan Peppers - North Georgia

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