Division II College World Series: Catawba 2, Indianapolis 1

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 27, 2012

By Mike London
CARY — Southpaw Nick Lomascolo heard the roar from hundreds of Catawba fans as he handed the ball to coach Jim Gantt with one out in the ninth.
Two outs from a complete game, but with 122 pitches worth of wear and tear on his left arm, Lomascolo, the crafty veteran, gave way to freshman Craig Brooks, the righty fireballer.
It was Brooks who quickly closed out the Indians’ tense 2-1 victory against the Indianapolis Greyhounds in a first-round game in the Division II World Series.
“My arm felt fine,” Lomascolo said cheerfully. “I wanted to finish it, and maybe I could’ve talked Coach into letting me finish it, but Brooks was great in the regional, and it’s a tough change for hitters when you go from me to him.”
Lomascolo is a painter in the mold of former Atlanta star Tom Glavine. Every offering has a purpose, and he hits corners with an arsenal of pitches. He’s got some zip on his fastball, but he usually throws it only when a hitter is absolutely certain something besides a heater is coming his way.
With the assistance of a clutch, two-run single by Julio Zubillaga, Lomascolo prevailed in a pitched battle with Indy right-hander Donovan Drake, an All-American and the Midwest Region’s hurler of the year.
Drake fanned 18 in a game earlier this season, and fourth-ranked Catawba’s lineup was generally helpless against him.
“It came down to the two starting pitchers, and both were outstanding,” Gantt said. “Their guy was hard to beat. We were fortunate we got that one key hit.”
When it came down to deciding his starter for the opener in the double-elimination event in Cary, Gantt leaned to the left, and Lomascolo proved the right choice.
At Lake Norman High, “Lomo” won in the 3A state championship series. With Mooresville American Legion, he won in the state tournament. He’s unflappable — and now he owns a World Series victory.
Lomascolo (10-4) encountered his first resistance in the fifth and was fortunate a wicked shot down the left-field line by Adam Rusche went foul. Rusche didn’t miss a two-run homer by much.
Rusche did single to put two men on, but Zubillaga, Catawba’s second baseman, started the team’s 49th twin killing of the spring.
“An easy one-hopper to me, and Brett (Underwood) turned it,” Zubillaga said with a shrug. “Credit our pitcher. Double plays always start with the pitcher.”
This one definitely did.
“Made a good pitch,” said Lomascolo, who offered lots of straight answers, but no straight pitches. “It was down and away. I got a groundball, and grounders to Zubi are double plays.”
The drama peaked in the sixth when Indy (46-15), ranked 11th nationally, broke through. A single, Matt Maringer’s double and a walk filled the bases with one out, and pinch-hitter Nate Koontz delivered a well-stroked sacrifice fly to center field.
Indy was thrilled to score. Catawba (44-15) was happy to get out of it with one run.
Chris Dula singled to start Catawba’s half of the sixth, and one out later, he produced the Indians’ biggest stolen base of the season on a bang-bang play. Dula is 19-for-19 on steal attempts.
Ethan Satterfield walked, a passed ball advanced both runners, and Garrett Furr walked to fill the bases.
Zubillaga was next, and his single up the middle scored Dula to tie and a sliding Satterfield for the lead.
“I’d battled their pitcher all day,” said Zubillaga, who had walked twice. “He was so tough. I was just trying not to strike out.”
He didn’t, and Catawba will be 1-0 when it plays again on Tuesday night at 7.
But mostly Catawba’s World Series debut came down to the southpaw.
“We knew Catawba had pitching, and the lefty was as good as we’ve seen,” Indy coach Gary Vaught said. “He kept hitting spots. We tried to adjust, but he kept getting us out. He beat us.”