Area briefs: Catawba baseball team still alive
From staff reports
The Catawba baseball team lost to top-seeded Tampa in the Division II South Region tournament Saturday afternoon, but the Indians will get another shot at the host school today.
It’s a chance Catawba will look forward to but a task that will be one of the toughest the Indians have faced all season.
Catawba lost 12-7 to Tampa yesterday afternoon, then thrashed fellow SAC school Carson-Newman 14-3 last night. That victory sent Catawba to the final day of the regional today, but the Indians will have to beat the two-time defending national champions twice to advance to the D-II College World Series.
At their home field.
“We couldn’t beat them once earlier today, so it’s gonna be even tougher to beat them twice,” Catawba coach Jim Gantt said. “But at least we’re in the championship game. We have a chance.”
Catawba (43-17) got that chance thanks in part to a complete-game pitching performance from Tim Holmes against Carson-Newman. A bullpen that will likely have to pitch plenty today got some much-needed rest last night.
Second-team all-region selection Blake Ketner (Northwest Cabarrus) will start the first game for the Indians at 1 p.m. today but will be under a strict pitch count.
“It’s gonna have to be by committee, but he’s ready,” Gantt said of Ketner. “We’ll pitch him as long as we can, then move on to bullpen, and they’ll just have to do it.”
Catawba’s bullpen didn’t help much in the first game Saturday, as Brett Hatley (West Rowan) took over for Tim Smith in the seventh inning and gave up two home runs in less than an inning of work. Travis McSweeney gave up another home run in the eighth.
Gantt said Hatley and McSweeney just left pitches up, and Tampa is a team that will pounce on any mistakes. Catawba also didn’t help its cause by issuing more walks than usual Saturday. Smith walked five batters, most of them with two outs. Tampa, in fact, scored 10 of its 12 runs with two outs.
“We’re one of the leaders in the nation with our pitching staff in walks per nine innings,” Gantt said. “I know four of their early runs were two-out walks that ended up scoring.
“That’s something we haven’t done all year. Then we did it against a good team, and that killed us.”
In the second game Saturday, leadoff batter David Thomas hit a home run to give the Indians a lead they never relinquished. Fellow seniors Chad Baker and Bubba Morris (North Rowan) also hit home runs, with Morris getting the first of his career.
Hatley led Catawba with four hits, including a double and a triple, against Carson-Newman, while Baker, Jerry Sands, and Craige Lyerly had three apiece. Lyerly went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles in the first game, and Ryan Query hit his fifth home run of the season in the first game and tripled in the second.
The Indians might need the type of offensive performance they got against Carson-Newman to beat Tampa today, but Gantt said his players have the confidence and the talent to win.
“After a tough loss to Tampa early, we weren’t really sure what to expect,” Gantt said. “But we came out swinging the bats. Maybe the momentum can carry to tomorrow.
“We played some teams that are as talented as them, and we’ve been able to compete with them. I think (my players) know we can compete with them.”
n Intimidators win again
The Kannapolis Intimidators scored all six of their runs in the first three innings and held on to knock off Hagerstown 6-4 at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Md. The Intimidators have now won four of their last five games.
Kannapolis got three runs in the first inning off singles from Dale Mollenhauer and Greg Paiml, two walks, two errors, two wild pitches and a passed ball. In the third, three bases-loaded walks scored Jim Gallagher, Sergio Morales and Christian Marrero for a 6-0 lead.