Smith's Walk Off Homer Keeps Baseball Alive at SAC Tournament


KODAK, Tenn. -- Kyle Smith led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run and Catawba prevailed 3-2 over Wingate on Saturday afternoon in an early elimination game between the top two seeds of the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament at Smokies Stadium. The top-seeded Catawba Indians improve to 28-22 and will face another elimination game on Sunday at 3:45 pm. The Bulldogs fall to 34-17 and will await a possible at large berth into the NCAA Southeast Regional.

Wingate battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the seventh. Tanner Forry followed a leadoff walk and an out with a home run to even things. The Bulldogs had two on with one out in the ninth before Clay Young got out of trouble with a strikeout and flyout.

That set the stage for Smith, who took a ball on the first pitch from Austin Turgeon then pulled the second pitch over the right field wall for the walk off winner. It was Smith’s first hit of the day and only the sixth for Catawba against Turgeon (5-3), who went the distance and walked three and struck out six.

Connor Johnson tossed seven strong innings for Catawba without factoring in the decision. He scattered seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Young (5-3) pitched the final two innings and did not allow a run off two hits with a walk and a pair of strikeouts.

Catawba loaded the bases in the first with one out and settled for a single run on a ground out by Joe Butts. The Indians filled the bases with no outs in the third and again managed just one run when Butts was hit by a pitch with one out. Turgeon settled down from there and allowed the Indians just two baserunners until Smith’s walk off homer in the ninth.

Forrey had two of the nine Bulldog hits. Wingate stranded 14 runners in the loss. Chance Bowden had two hits for the Indians and Luke Setzer scored twice. Catawba left six on base.

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