College World Series: Catawba 5, St. Mary's 4: Indians in Final Four
By Ryan Bisesi
CARY — If you want to see the unusual in baseball, Catawba has been a good team to follow during its run through the Division II College World Series.
Catawba coach Jim Gantt would normally be coaching Legion ball this time of year, but his Indians keep scrapping and find themselves in the Final Four after a 5-4 win Wednesday night against St. Mary’s at the USA Baseball Training Complex. A day after six errors doomed the Indians, they survived five hit batters thanks to three runs in the first inning and Ross Whitley pitching a one-hitter through six frames. A day after playing its most forgettable game of the year, the Indians staved off elimination as Whitley, used out of the bullpen for a good chuck of the year, thrived in the Indians’ most important start of the season.
“Ross did a heck of a job,” Gantt said. “He kept their good bats off stride for a long time. He’s not just a guy that we’re hoping to get a few innings out of. He can go out there and do the job.”
The Indians, playing in their first World Series, reached the semifinals and will play No.9-ranked West Chester (44-10) tonight at 7. Nick Lomascolo will toe the rubber after getting the win Sunday against Indianapolis.
Whitley hit three batters in three pitches to load the bases in the seventh, but that’s where the oddities ended. Righty Craig Brooks came on and got a strikeout and popup for the first two outs. After walking Billy Richard on four pitches, Brooks struck out Derek Moczygemba to end the threat.
“The only thing that could have gone better is not giving up the walk,” Brooks said. “I was pretty satisfied.”
Despite only giving up three hits, Catawba allowed four walks in addition to the five hit batters to allow the Rattlers to hang around. St. Mary’s left nine runners on base, including the bases loaded in the seventh.
“I watched them play against Delta State and knew what their tendencies were,” Whitley said. “I felt pretty good for six innings.”
St. Mary’s Skye Severns hadn’t lost all season, but the Indians went against that trend early on.
Garrett Furr got an attractive fastball and roped a triple that had Ryan Bostian and Ethan Satterfield running side-by-side with both crossing the plate to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
“He left it up a little bit and I took advantage of it,” Furr said. “Coach always tells us in practice to take a bite out of a cookie and not the whole thing. I listened for once.”
Julio Zubillaga followed with a groundout to score Bostian.
St. Mary’s rarely hit the ball hard outside of the second inning. Brandon Bates walked and Esteban Roygoza singled to start and Bates scored on a deep fly ball from Ivan Sigala to cut it to 3-1. Catawba answered in its half of the second when Chris Dula doubled home Cameron Beard. Catawba added one more in the fifth when Zubillaga scored on a single from Beard, who finished with three hits.
John Tuttle came on in the ninth and allowed a leadoff double to Mario Maldonado. M. P. Cokinos singled with two out to score Maldonado with two out to make it a one-run game. Tuttle got Bates to strike out on a check swing to end the game for his third save.
Gantt said it was nice to see a “0” in the error slot on the scoreboard after the struggles in the loss to Delta State.
“We played good defensively tonight,” Gantt said. “That’s what we have to do to win.”
Severns was 9-0 with a 2.62 ERA coming into the game. St. Mary’s, ranked first in the latest coaches’ poll, finished the year 49-11.
“He walked a couple guys early and they capitalized with big hits,” St. Mary’s coach Charlie Migl said. “That got us behind the eight ball.”
NOTES: Lomascolo started the World Series off with a masterful 2-1 win against Indianapolis and with the Indians in a do-or-die situation, will be pitching on three days rest tonight. Lomascolo did pitch twice in four games during the Southeast Regional. “He’s pitched in a middle-of-a-week game in relief to get his work,” Gantt said. “He’s never really pitched on that short of rest with the exception of the regional.”…Wednesday’s attendance was 802, a sizable part of which were Catawba fans that made the two-hour journey east. “It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our school,” Gantt said. “You never know if you’re going to get back here. Being close to home, people can come see us. One good thing is, if we do lose, it’s a shorter trip home. We don’t have to fly cross-country.”