Catawba advances to SAC championship
FOREST CITY — Craig Brooks singled with the bases loaded in the 12th inning to snap a scoreless tie and give Catawba a 1-0 win against Wingate on Saturday and propelled the Indians into the SAC Championship game today.
“What was amazing was we struck out 17 times today against Wingate pitching, and Brooks was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts,” Catawba coach Jim Gantt said. “But that’s baseball.”
With one out in the 12th, Ethan Satterfield, who also went to the plate 0-for-4, got the rally going with a single through the left side.
T.J. Wharton then hit a double down the left-field line to put runners at second and third. Julio Zubillaga was intentionally walked to load the bases for new pitcher Tyler Brown, who allowed the Indians’ ninth and most important hit of the night to Brooks.
Wingate will play Tusculum in an elimination game at 1 p.m. with the winner taking on Catawba for the title at about 4 p.m.
Catawba pitcher Matt Farmakis started and was brilliant, throwing six scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and two walks.
The Indians had a threat after Keaton Hawks doubled to left field to put Paul Kronenfeld at third with one out. Stephen Vaughn, who threw nine scoreless innings, got Satterfield to strike out and Wharton to ground out to end the threat.
Catawba got outstanding relief work from Grant, Michael Trombino, who was bouncing back from a tough outing, and All-SAC closer Ryan McClintock.
Gantt said Brooks, the SAC Pitcher of the Year and the winner of Catawba’s tournament opener on Thursday, will be the starter today.
“Brooks will start, Sean Grant only threw one inning today, we’ve got still Joe Watson, and we’ll just try to piece it together,” Gantt said.
The Indians, who lost a painful one Friday, have been resilient all season. They defeated Lincoln Memorial 4-2 Saturday afternoon behind a complete game from redshirt freshman Shaefer Shepard. Shepard, the SAC Freshman of the Year, threw 6 2/3 innings without giving up a hit and improved to 7-1.
“He had a pretty bad bug Friday night and was throwing up,” Gantt said with a laugh. “Hopefully, he passed that bug on to our other guys.”
Gantt said the day was a long one, but a good one.
“Shepard was so good in that first game, it was over in two hours, and we got to go back to the hotel and rest before the night game,” Gantt said. “It was almost like we hadn’t played.”
The Indians will try to get it done again today. A regional berth will be at stake.
• Mike London contributed to this story.