College baseball: Indians debut with sweep in renovated Newman Park

Published 8:36 pm Saturday, February 12, 2022

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Maddux Holshouser pitched no-hit ball for five innings, faced only 16 batters and threw only 53 pitches, but he didn’t go back out to the mound for the sixth.

Catawba baseball coach Jim Gantt made his first tough decision from the spacious new home dugout at renovated Newman Park.

It worked out. Catawba’s bullpen nailed down the last six outs and the Indians won 2-1 against Shippensburg (0-5) for a doubleheader sweep on a Saturday blessed with May-like weather.

There was a good lesson in all of it for a Catawba team with a ton of new faces and some veterans in new places. Let’s win the game first. We’ll worry about individual feats later.

“Maddux was really good today and I was aware he was trying to pitch a no-hitter,” Gantt said. “But he’d started losing some zip on his fastball, and they were getting back to the top of the lineup, and it was time. We wanted to come out on top more than we wanted a no-hitter. We needed this one.”

Holshouser also pitched superbly on Catawba’s season-opening Florida trip, but errors hurt him and he got no decision. He got the win this time.

Ryan Street allowed a solo homer in the sixth. Dawson Painter reported to the mound from right field and finished off a combined one-hitter. He earned the save with a strong seventh.

Catawba’s offense wasn’t overwhelming, scratching out two unearned runs.Leadoff man Joe Butts singled and scored in the third and walked and scored in the fifth. Butts put himself in scoring position both times with steals.

It was an odd game for Newman Park, with only three runs plated and with a duration of  a crisp 91 minutes, but it may be a sign of things to come now that it’s 370 feet to center field and deeper in the alleys.

“The park is definitely going to play quite a bit bigger, but the main thing for us right now offensively is to hit better with men in scoring position,” Gantt said. “We’ll work on it.”

In Saturday’s first game, the Indians dug a 5-0 hole, but managed to climb out of it and win 6-5 in 10 innings.

Painter pulled a home run down the left-field line to cut the deficit to 5-4 in the sixth. It was the first homer launched in the renovated park.

“A ball hit like that is usually going to hook, but that one stayed straight and stayed fair,” Gantt said. “It was a big one.”

Catawba tied it at 5-all when Butts charged home on Dylan Wilkinson’s infield hit in the seventh.

Cameron Mills delivered the game-winning hit in the 10th.

Catawba starting pitcher Greg Brown recovered from a rocky first inning to keep the Indians in the game for six innings. Michael Gracer was untouchable out of the bullpen while notching seven outs.

“Gracer was really nervous when the pitched for the first time for us in Florida, but he’s already been the difference in two wins,” Gantt said.

Closer Robbie Cowie didn’t allow a hit in the ninth or 10th innings and was credited with the win.

The new-look park was a hit with hundreds of fans, and it was a solid day for the Indians.

“We’ve got a really long way to go, but this team does have some fight,” Gantt said. “We came from down 8-0 for that first win in Florida and we came back from 5-0 today. That’s encouraging.”

Game 1

Shippensburg     310 010  000  0 —  5   10   1

Catawba              000 031   100  1   — 6  10  0

W — Cowie (1-0).

HR — Painter (1).


Game 2

Shippensburg    000  001   0   — 1   1   2

Catawba              001   010  x    — 2   4   0

W — Holshouser (1-0). S — Painter (1)