College Baseball: Raper’s walk-off double gives Indians a split
Published 10:39 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018
SALISBURY — Catawba baseball Jim Gantt expressed concern about a difficult Senior Day matchup early in the week.
Lincoln Memorial’s big hitters in cozy Newman Park? It was any fun to think about that.
The reality was scarier than anyone could have imagined. Catawba was out-homered by the Railsplitters, 11-2, in Saturday’s marathon doubleheader. LMU hit seven long ones to Catawba’s one in the nightcap.
Given that disparity in long balls, Catawba probably was fortunate to savage a split of the doubleheader.
Catawba might have taken two, but the bullpen couldn’t close the deal in the opener. Down 6-3, Lincoln Memorial (27-18, 12-12) walloped two homers and got three runs in the ninth to push the game to extra innings and scored three more in the 10th to prevail, 9-8.
Catawba pulled out the seven-inning nightcap, 13-12, on bottom-of-the seventh doubles by Kyle Smith and Jackson Raper. Raper’s double was Catawba’s 13th of the day.
Wingate split a Saturday doubleheader with Newberry, so the Indians (24-20, 17-7) still hold a one-game lead in the standings over the Bulldogs. Catawba plays at Wingate next weekend in the final SAC series of the season.
Catawba built a 5-0 lead in the opener. Michael Elwell shut out LMU for four innings, but the Railsplitters got three in the fifth to get on the board and then produced a parade of clutch homers in the late innings.
Catawba’s only homer came in the bottom of the 10th, a two-run shot by Jason Curtis that still left the Indians a run short.
The first game took 4 hours, 14 minutes to play.
Catawba saluted nine seniors prior to the opener — including Smith, Bowden, Setzer, Elwell, Clay Young, Ryan Kahny, Cody Fitch, Kaleb Stewart and Connor Johnson, who started the second game on the mound.
Smith had four hits for Catawba in the second game. With the scored tied at 12-all, he opened the seventh with his third double. An intentional walk to Chance Bowden was followed by a flyball by Heath Mitchem and a popup by Luke Setzer. But with two outs, Raper came through with his clutch double to send exhausted fans home.
Raper also smacked a three-run homer in the fourth to turn a 9-7 Catawba deficit into a 10-9 lead. He had five RBIs in the game.
Mitchem and Setzer scored three runs each. Joe Butts and Jacob Nester drove in two apiece.
Greg Brown got the last out in the top of the seventh and was the winning pitcher.
Catawba dropped the series two games to one.
Alumni baseball players were recognized between games of Saturday’s doubleheader.
LMU 000 030 003 3 — 9 11 1
Catawba 301 101 000 2 — 8 13 1
W —Matt Muhlenbach (5-2). L — Hunter Shepherd (3-2).
HR — LMU: Seth Hunt 2 (3), Will Reddick (2), Chris Salvey (9). CAT: Curtis (1).
LMU 203 400 3 — 12 13 1
Catawba 331 302 1 — 13 15 0
W — Brown (1-0). L — Evan Porter (0-2).
HR— LMU: Reddick 2 (4), Tyler Adams (7), Salvey 2 (11), Muta Crusoe (1), Mason Ewers (2).
Catawba: Raper (7).