College baseball: Catawba wins season opener in 10 innings

Published 1:38 am Saturday, February 2, 2019

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. — Mother Nature delivered a curveball to the 2019 Catawba baseball season, delaying the opener against Lynn for two hours.
Rain early in the day in Boca Raton, Florida, coupled with no lights at the Fighting Knights’ home field, resulted in an unconventional solution moving the start time from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and trekking 40 miles south to Fienbloom Stadium at Barry University.
Peyton Williams stranded Lynn’s (0-1) tying run on second in the 10th inning, securing the win for Catawba (1-0) and ending a long day for both sides.
In the top of the extra frame, Hunter Shepard led off with an infield single. Capitalizing on an error by the Fighting Knights, he advanced to third with one out. Cameron Morrison delivered the eventual game winner with a liner to left.
Lynn got on the board first when Alejandro Martinez singled to right, scoring Alec Ojeda, who opened the frame with a double.
Catawba responded with two in the third, before adding solo markers in each of the next two innings and Lynn added one in the fourth.
Needing just six outs in the field, Shepherd led off the eighth with a blast over the left-center wall, giving the Indians a much-needed insurance run and a 5-2 lead.
Lynn batted around in the bottom of the frame, sending nine men to the plate and scoring three, deadlocking the game at 5-5. The first five batters reached base with two walks, a single, hit-by-pitch and a double.
DJ Laxton struck out the next two Fighting Knights before loading the bags with his second hit batsman of the inning. With bases loaded and two outs in a tie game, Laxton fanned Tom Archer, getting the Indians out of a jam.
Catawba threatened with two outs and no one on in the top of the ninth, with consecutive base-on-balls by Heath Mitchem and Joe Butts. A ground out ended the rally and giving the home team a chance to win with a walk-off. Caleb Link retired the Fighting Knights 1-2-3, sending the game to extras.
Head coach Jim Gantt named Shepherd the Indians’ starter in the season opener, recording his 22nd career start. The southpaw from Salisbury, North Carolina, worked into the seventh before being lifted for a relief pitcher. He allowed two runs, one earned, fanning five and walking one before giving way to junior Riley Myers with one on and one out in the seventh. Myers faced five batters, getting two outs and allowing three runs with two walks and a single, striking out one. Laxton did not allow a run in his one inning of work, striking out three. Link earned the win after working a perfect ninth, including one strikeout. Williams registered his first save of the season, allowing one walk in a scoreless 10th inning. Nicholis Prather, who opened the game on the bump for the Fighting Knights, tossed 4.0 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out four. Kendrick Pico replaced Prather and gave up two runs, with four hits, one walk and three strikeouts in four innings of work. Pico threw the final two innings and was saddled with the loss, allowing one run on two hits and two walks, striking out two.
Shepherd went 2-for-5 at the plate, including a home run. He scored twice and knocked in two. Bryce Butler, and Morrison each recorded multiple hits. Jeremy Simpson, Mitchem, Butts, Jackson Raper and Robbie Cowie registered knocks as eight of nine batters reached base safely.
Lynn’s Leaders: 
Trevor Romeo, Ojeda and Martinez recorded two hits each and Ojeda scored twice. Martinez drove in three.
Catawba continues its four-game road trip in South Florida on Saturday with a high noon clash at Nova Southeastern in Davie, Florida.