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College Baseball: Catawba loses regional opener

Catawba’s baseball team lost an extraordinary game in the opening round of the Southeast Regional at Burger King Stadium in Columbus, Ga.
Lorenzo Wright’s walk-off single in the 12th inning came at 2:43 a.m. on Friday morning and lifted third-seeded Belmont Abbey to a 6-5 victory over the sixth-seeded Indians.
Ranked 15th nationally, Belmont Abbey (39-14-1) beat Catawba (34-20) for the third time this season.
The game was scheduled to be played a 7 p.m. on Thursday night but it was the third game of the day and weather delays pushed the first pitch back to 11 p.m.
Catawba got off to a superb start. Dylan Richardson opened the game with his 12th homer, and Kyle Smith singled home a second run before the top of the first ended.
Belmont Abbey came back with the long ball, taking a 4-2 lead after six innings on homers by Nick Beinlich, Thomas Yoder and Kayden Krause.
Other than those homers, Shaefer Shepard had a tremendous night on the mound for the Indians. He struck out a career-high 12.
Catawba rallied in the seventh for three runs. Smith drove one in with an infield hit, and Luke Setzer, a sophomore who chose Catawba over Belmont Abbey late in his recruiting process, whacked a two-out, two-run single for a 5-4 lead.
Shepherd held the lead in the bottom of the seventh and again in the eighth, but Catawba couldn’t add insurance.
Shepherd had thrown more than 130 pitches, and his night ended when he walked the leadoff batter in the ninth. Catawba called on Heath Mitchem, Bryan Blanton and D.J. Laxton out of the bullpen, but Belmont Abbey was able to score the tying run on a single to right-center by Beinlich. Catawba was able to cut down what would’ve been a game-ending run at the plate and the game moved to extra innings tied at 5-all.
Catawba was unable to do anything offensively in the late innings against Belmont Abbey’s 6-foot-8 closer Kyle Halbohn, who struck out nine Indians.
Laxton kept Belmont Abbey from scoring in the 10th. Avery Bowles, the Indians’ fifth hurler, got Catawba out of a jam in the 11th when third baseman Jake Kimble made an acrobatic effort to start a 5-3 double play.
But Catawba couldn’t stop Belmont Abbey again in the 12th, A single, walk and a hit batsman filled the bases with one out, and Wright stroked his line-drive single to center to bring an end the marathon.
Richardson, Smith and Jeremy Simpson had two hits each. Setzer and Smith drove in two runs apiece.
Catawba players, coaches and fans didn’t get much sleep. Catawba has to try to stay alive today in a 10:30 a.m. elimination game against Mount Olive.

Catawba 200 000 300 000 — 5 11 1
Belmont Abbey 102 001 001 001 — 6 6 3
W — Kyle Halbohn (6-1). L — Avery Bowles (3-1).
HR — CAT: Dylan Richardson (12). BA: Nick Beinlich (13), Thomas Yoder (3), Kayden Krause (4).

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