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College Baseball: So far, so good for Indians

By Mike London

KODAK, Tenn. — Catawba lefty Hunter Shepherd was outstanding again on Saturday, and the Indians demolished Mars Hill, 11-1, to stay unbeaten in the double-elimination South Atlantic Conference Tournament.

Top-seeded Catawba (37-12) won its 10th straight game. The loss ended the season for No. 4 seed Mars Hill (29-21).

Shepherd, SAC Freshman of the Year, is 8-0. Shepherd lowered his ERA to 3.43. He’s struck out three batters for every walk.

“Shepherd kept his fastball down and got a lot of ground balls,” Catawba coach Jim Gantt said. “He pitched inside and outside and was able to throw all his pitches for strikes. He really should’ve pitched a shutout, but I saw something Saturday I’d never seen before. A ground ball went through (first baseman) Chance Bowden’s legs.”

Bowden, a Gold Glove first baseman, made up for a rare error by clubbing a three-run homer.

“He hit it a mile to left-center,” Gantt said. “Almost hit it out of the stadium.”

It was scoreless until the decisive top of the fourth when the Indians scored three runs with two men out. Kyle Smith’s double to the base of the wall started it. Bryce Fowler stroked a single up the middle for the game’s first run. Then Nick Coble blistered a liner over the left-field fence to give Shepherd a 3-0 lead.

“Really big hit by Fowler, and Coble hit that ball really hard,” Gantt said.

Former South Rowan star Mat Honeycutt doubled to start the bottom of the fourth for the Lions. He scored on Bowden’s error.

A hit by Luke Setzer started the Catawba fifth, and Catawba had runners at second and third after Jeremy Simpson’s bunt was thrown away. Zaz Almond’s infield hit to short made it 4-1 before Bowden made amends for his miscue with a three-run blast.

That was a knockout punch. It was smooth sailing from there for the Indians.

Shepherd pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three hits and one walk and striking out three. Cody Fitch and Michael Elwell were good out of the bullpen.

Catawba had 12 hits, with Setzer, Fowler, Almond and Bowden getting two each.

Catawba plays a pivotal game in the tournament today at noon when it takes on No. 2 seed Lincoln Memorial. The Railsplitters, also 2-0 in the tourney, won a series from Catawba during the regular season.

“Our pitching has been really good here, and we’ll need that to continue Sunday,” Gantt said. “Lincoln Memorial is hitting the heck out of the ball.”

WSAT-1280  is broadcasting the games.

Catawba                 000    343   010   — 11  12   2

Mars Hill               000   100    000   — 1    4    1

W — Shepherd (8-0). L — Edwards (3-1).

HR — Catawba: Bowden (10), Coble (11).

Leading hitters — Catawba: Bowden 2-for-4, 3 RBIs; Fowler 2-for-4;  Setzer 2-for-5; Almond 2-for-5, 2 RBIs;









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