College Baseball: Catawba sweeps Brevard
By Mike London
Catawba freshman Julio Zubillaga had the right attitude about the .195 batting average he lugged into a weekend series with Brevard.
“I can’t hurt it,” the second baseman said cheerfully.
As it turned out, he helped his BA — a lot. Zubillaga went 5-for-6, including a grand slam, as the first-place Indians beat Brevard 16-2 and 8-5 on Saturday at Newman Park to complete a series sweep.
The one out Zubillaga made Saturday was on a solidly stroked line drive right at the center fielder.
“I’ve been working on my swing a lot, on staying back better, and the baseball looked pretty good to me today,” Zubillaga said.
The former Carson hero is now hitting a respectable .256.
Catawba (25-7, 15-3) crushed the Tornados (11-20, 3-14) in Saturday’s opener, pounding out 20 hits. Josh Hohn doubled, tripled and knocked in four runs. Chris Dula, Greg Lawson and Zubillaga had three hits apiece, while Ryan Bostian had two.
All that offense allowed J.J. Jankowski (5-1) to cruise. He breezed through six innings, struck out seven and didn’t walk anyone.
The seven-inning nightcap got a lot more interesting mostly because Catawba’s defense wasn’t very sharp in a third inning in which Brevard scored three times against winner Austin Moyer (5-2).
“Moyer didn’t have his good stuff and he was pitching with a badly bruised ankle,” Catawba coach Jim Gantt said. “He gave us what we had.”
It was enough mostly because of reserve Jordan Kuhn.
While the odds were long against Zubillaga’s monster day, even most of the Catawba fans in attendance had never heard of Kuhn.
A sophomore from Lewis Center, Ohio — it’s near Columbus — Kuhn has stayed busy on Catawba’s developmental squad while providing depth at first base behind Moyer and Brett Holmgren. With Moyer pitching and Holmgren ailing, Gantt handed Kuhn his first start of the year. Naturally, he went 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
“Brevard did a lot of good things in that second game and took momentum a few times,” Gantt said. “But Zubillaga swung the bat well, and Kuhn was amazing with all those key hits he had.”
Kuhn doubled down the left-field chalk in the first inning for two runs, and with the third baseman guarding the line in the third, he smacked one through the hole to plate another run.
With the score tied 5-5, the gave moved into the bottom of the fifth, and Kuhn came through one more time.
John Neese opened the pivotal frame with an epic at-bat, battling back from an 0-2 count, fouling off pitches, and finally working a walk.
Kuhn followed with a long smash off the wall in left-center that chased home Neese with the go-ahead run.
“Brevard fought a lot more in the second game,” Kuhn said. “I’ve been waiting for a chance to play, and it just felt good to be able to help the team win a tough game like that.”
Zubillaga’s two-out single scored Kuhn to make it 7-5.
In the sixth, Dula doubled and Garrett Furr singled for an insurance run.
Wil Huneycutt pitched two scoreless innings for his fourth save, and Catawba maintained its comfortable lead in the SAC race.
Lefty Nick Lomascolo (6-1) dominated on Friday night to get Catawba off to a good start in the SAC series.
“It felt like we were in a hitting slump coming in,” Gantt said. “But with the starters we’ve been able to put on the mound, we’ve still been in pretty good shape.”
NOTES: Dula leads the team with a .376 average and 36 RBIs. … Nathan Furr continued his comeback with two scoreless innings in Saturday’s opener. … Catawba plays at Belmont Abbey on Tuesday and is home for a SAC series against Lenoir-Rhyne next weekend. … Jacob Koontz (West Rowan) pitched in relief for Brevard in Saturday’s opener. … Boxscores are in Scoreboard.