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Catawba outslugs Pioneers in DH sweep

Edison Cabrera in action in Saturday's DH at Catawba (photo by Chris Lenker)
Edison Cabrera in action in Saturday's DH at Catawba (photo by Chris Lenker)

SALISBURY, N.C. --- After being held to one run and four hits in Friday's opener, the Catawba baseball team racked up 32 runs and 30 hits as the Indians outslugged the Tusculum Pioneers in doubleheader sweep Saturday afternoon at Newman Park.

Catawba (13-16, 8-4 SAC) won by scores of 19-10 and 13-12 to win the South Atlantic Conference weekend series, 2-1.

Catawba's Chance Bowden homered three times and went 5-for-11 with five RBI and five runs scored in Saturday's two games.

On the day, the two teams combined for 54 runs, 57 hits including 11 doubles and 12 home runs in the doubleheader.

Despite dropping the series, the Pioneers out-hit the Indians 38-34 and won the edge in doubles (9-6) and home runs (9-6).  But Catawba drew more walks (21-12 margin) and struck out fewer times (25-29 margin).

Game 1: Catawba 19, Tusculum 10

Catawba scored seven runs on eight hits in the first inning and led wire-to-wire in a 19-10 win over Tusculum.  Every Catawba batter finished with at-least one hit including six players with multi-hit performances in Saturday's opener.

Heath Mitchem led the charge with his 4-for-6 performance, while Bowden homered twice and went 3-of-6 with three runs scored and four RBI.  Lee Poteat also went 3-for-4 with four RBI, while Kyle Smith, Luke Setzer and Cameron Morrison all had two hits apiece.

Smith and Bowden got the scoring started by hitting back-to-back homers to open the first inning.  Morrison and Poteat both hit back-to-back two-run singles as Catawba led 7-0.

The Pioneers battled back with five runs in the top of the third inning which included a two-run single by Jarel McDade and followed by a three-run homer by Nate Montgomery as TC trimmed the deficit to 7-5.

Catawba responded with four runs in the bottom of the third including a RBI double from Morriston and a two-run homer off Bowden's bat as the Tribe extended the lead to 11-5.

Tusculum scored three times in the fourth inning thanks to a lead-off homer from Garrett Dupuis and a two-out, two-run blast from McDade for his fourth round-tripper of the season and second of the weekend.  TC tacked on another run in fifth on Bradley Evans' lead-off blast to left field as TC trailed 11-9.

But the Catawba Indians exploded for four runs in fifth and four more in the sixth to take a 19-9 advantage.  The big blast came in the sixth on Setzer three-run homer.

Tusculum added a run in the eighth on Logan McMahan's pinch-hit solo homer to provide the final scoring margin.

McDade finished the game going 3-for-4 with four RBI, while Bryson Ford also had a multi-hit effort going 2-for-4 with a double.

Catawba reliever Clay Young (3-3) picked up the victory as he went the final five innings where he allowed five hits, two runs, zero walks and six strikeouts.  Tusculum starter Zach Sanders (2-3) suffered the loss.

Game 2: Catawba 13, Tusculum 2

The Catawba Indians jumped out to a nine-run lead but had to hold off a furious Tusculum rally as the Tribe edged the Pioneers 13-12 in the night-cap.

Similar to the first game, Catawba batted around in the first inning to take a 6-0 lead.  Jacob Nestor posted a two-run single and Mike Manoogian cleared the bases with his three-run double.

But also like the opener, Tusculum answered quickly with four runs in the second inning thanks in part to a two-run base hit by Ford. 

Catawba responded with seven runs in the second inning as the Indians got a lead-off homer from Bowden and Smith belted a two-run blast later in the frame to extend the lead to 13-4.

But the Pioneers wouldn't give up as TC chipped away at the deficit scoring three runs in the third, two in the fourth and another run in the fifth as Tusculum trailed 13-10.

Meanwhile the Tusculum pitching duo of Trent Collins and Mitch McCain held Catawba scores over the final 2 2/3 innings.

In the top of the seventh, the Pioneers made one final push as Daulton Martin drew a walk and after a strikeout, Montgomery singled to put runners and first and second and brining the tying run to the plate in Evans.  Evans answered with a two-run double to left field to bring home Martin and Montgomery as TC trailed by one.  But Catawba reliever DJ Laxton caught Zack Finchum's line drive back to the mound and Edison Cabrera flied out to center field to end the game.

The Pioneers out-hit the Indians 16-10 with Evans, Montgomery and Cabrera all having three-hit games.  Evans' homer was his third of the weekend.

For Catawba, Bowden, Nester and Joe Butts all had two-hit performances in the win.

Tusculum drops its record to 12-13 overall and 6-6 in the league. Through 25 games, TC is below .500 for the first time since the 2000 season when the Pioneers were 9-16 overall.

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