College baseball: Stolsworth throws Super Regional gem; Catawba plays Sunday in D-II World Series

Published 8:19 am Sunday, May 26, 2024

Staff report

SALISBURY — There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of drama on Saturday at Newman Park.

Blame Payne Stolsworth for that. He took care of business. The Catawba right-hander threw 106 pitches, and about 100 of them went exactly where he wanted them go to.

“He was really good,” Catawba head coach Jim Gantt said. “And he got better as the game went along.”

With eight dominant innings from Stolsworth in front of 512 fans, Catawba smacked Georgia College & State University 8-0 to sweep the Southeast Super Regional in two games. Catawba got a great start from Austin Fine and then held on for a 9-6 win on Friday.

Stolsworth, an All-Region pick and the SAC Pitcher of the Year, wasn’t exactly a Cinderella story. The former West Rowan Falcon three-sport athlete has been doing it all season. He struck out five, walked three, allowed five hits and bumped his record to 11-3.

Catawba (44-15) scored twice in the second inning, with one run crossing on a double-play grounder. Ty Hubbard’s RBI single made it 2-0.

Stolsworth had to protect that slim lead until the sixth when Cooper Bryson made it 3-0 with a two-out hit.

Sam Hunter’s double in the seventh set up a two-run single by Bo Rusher for a 5-0 lead.

Then the Indians made it 8-0 in the eighth when Dylan Driver cleared the bases with a triple.

Hayden Simmerson got two out in the ninth, and Mason Gwyn got the last one.

Byrson and Cole Hales had two hits each. Catawba had 10 hits.

Catawba is going to Cary for the D-II World Series for the fourth time, all under the leadership of Gantt, the Southeast Region Coach of the Year.

Catawba’s previous regional championships were in 2012, 2015 and 2019. Catawba was national runner-up in 2015.

“The pieces of the puzzle fit well and they play for each other and I think that’s what is special about this team,” Gantt said.

Catawba will play on Sunday, June 2, at 1:30 in Cary against Southern New Hampshire in a first-round matchup.

The Indians are seeded third.

Also in the field are Indiana-Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Central Missouri, Tampa, Point Loma and Angelo State.