College baseball: Catawba pulls out SAC tourney opener
KODAK, Tenn. — Catawba rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to top Tusculum 5-4 in its South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament opener on Friday night at Smokies Stadium. Catawba, seeded third and ranked 11th in Division II, improved to 39-12 on the year. The Pioneers, seeded fourth, fall to 30-20.
Jackson Raper got the game-changing hit in the bottom of the eighth. His two-run single against SAC Pitcher of the Year Charles Hall turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead.
Down 4-2, Heath Mitchem started the Catawba eighth with a single. A one-out single by Hunter Shepherd sent Mitchem to third and a walk to pinch-hitter Dylan Wilkinson loaded the bases. A wild pitch closed the margin to 4-3 before Raper delivered his big hit.
Peyton Williams tossed a scoreless ninth with a pair of strikeouts to earn his eighth save. He allowed a two-out hit, but fanned the final batter to end the game.
Riley Myers (7-0) was credited with the win. He gave up an unearned run in the eighth, but got out of further trouble by picking off a batter, and then posting a strikeout to end the frame.
Shepherd and Raper had three hits each for Catawba. Mitchem had two. Mitchem scored twice and Raper had three RBIs.
Catawba used six pitcher, Greg Brown got the start and pitched into the fourth. He struck out five.
Catawba took an early lead with a pair of runs in the first. Mitchem, Jeremy Simpson and Shepherd each singled to load the bases. Mitchem scored on a double play, and Raper singled home a run.
Hall (6-3) went the distance, allowing five earned runs off the nine hits. He walked two and fanned 11.
Catawba will face Lincoln Memorial tonight at 7:30 pm. WSAT Radio will carry the game.
In other tournament games on Friday:
(1) Newberry 4, (7) Anderson 2
(2) Lincoln Memorial 6, (5) Wingate 0
(7) Anderson vs. (5) Wingate, Noon
(1) Newberry vs. (4) Tusculum, 3:45 p.m.
(2) Lincoln Memorial vs. (3) Catawba, 7:30 p.m.