Catawba wins in 13th inning on walk-off walk
Catawba Sports Information
& Staff report
SALISBURY — Kyle Smith drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 13th inning as Catawba topped visiting Tusculum, 8-7, in a marathon South Atlantic Conference baseball contest on Friday night at Newman Park.
The game matched the longest game played between the two teams as Tusculum won a 13-inning game in 2014 at Tusculum, 9-8. With the win, the Indians improve to 8-7 overall and 2-2 in the SAC, while the Pioneers fall to 11-5 and 0-1.
Dylan Richardson started the 13th inning for Catawba with a single to left field and went to second base when the throw to the infield got away. Malachi Hanes followed with a single off the glove of Tusculum pitcher Dillon Hardy, putting runners on the corners.
Bryce Fowler was intentionally walked to load the bases for Smith, who fell behind in the count 0-2 before taking the next four pitches to produce the winning run.
Catawba twice battled back from two runs down in the final two regularly scheduled innings. Down 5-3 in the eighth, Jeremy Simpson singled with two outs to bring leadoff hitter Will Albertson to the plate. The senior slugger drilled a two-run homer to center to pull the Indians even.
Tusculum took the lead right back in the top of the ninth frame when Creighton Wilke’s chopper to first with the bases loaded popped out of the glove of a leaping Chance Bowden, scoring a pair of runs.
Catawba was able to rally again to send the game to extra innings.
A Tusculum miscue started the ninth when a fly ball to center off the bat of Jake Kimble was dropped. Ryan Watts was able to get the next two Catawba batters out, but Hanes drew a walk and Fowler hit a hard shot to first that was not handled, bringing in one run. Smith then pulled a single into right field to score Hanes.
DJ Laxton got the win in relief for the Indians as he tossed four and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball. He entered in the ninth inning to face Wilke and after allowing two infield hits, he retired nine straight batters until a two-out walk in the 12th.
Richardson led Catawba with three hits and put the Indians on top early with a two-run triple down the right field line in the bottom of the first. Albertson had two hits and also walked twice. Fowler went 2-for-2 after entering as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Simpson and Hanes also had two hits with Simpson doubling home a run for Catawba in the fourth inning, producing a 3-1 lead.
The Pioneers erased the 3-1 deficit with a four-run sixth inning. Tusculum started the sixth with a hit batter and a walk, then loaded the bases when Richardson couldn’t find the bag at first on a sacrifice attempt. Wilke tied the game with a two-run single. Tusculum took the lead when Tandon Dorn drew a bases-loaded walk and went up 5-3 on a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Glore.
Neither starter, Shaefer Shepard and Placido Torres, factored in the decision and both could have had better help from their defense as Tusculum committed five errors. Catawba made one error, but also lost a routine fly ball that fell for a double, leading to the first Pioneer run.
Torres entered the game for the Pioneers with a 4-0 record and a 0.30 ERA. He gave up three runs over six and two-thirds innings with only one run being earned. He fanned 12 batters and threw 138 pitches. Watts followed Torres and pitched through the 12th inning. He allowed four runs (two earned) over five and a third innings. Watts also fanned 12 and threw 112 pitches.
Shepard pitched into the sixth for Catawba. He would allow four runs (three earned) off six hits with six strikeouts. Avery Bowles tossed two scoreless innings for the Indians and allowed just one hit.
John Topoleski had four hits in a losing effort for Tusculum.
The Pioneers stranded a dozen runners, while Catawba left 18 runners on base. The game lasted four hours and 50 minutes and both teams’ pitchers combined for 512 pitches, 265 thrown by Tusculum hurlers.
Catawba won despite striking out 24 times, a school record. However, the Indians also walked nine times and was aided by the five Pioneer errors.
The teams will finish the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 1 pm.