Catawba Falls In Third Game Of SAC Tournament On Walk-Off Against Lenoir-Rhyne

KODAK, TN – The Catawba College baseball team led for eight and a half innings in the third game of the SAC Postseason Tournament but fell to Lenoir-Rhyne on a walk-off, 3-2, on Saturday night.

Right-handed pitcher Ben Gilks got the start after throwing two days prior in the single-elimination game against Mars Hill and showed no signs of fatigue on Saturday night. The senior hurler cruised through the first seven innings and allowed just two hits with six strikeouts.

Catawba’s offense got Gilks the lead in the top of the fourth when Dylan Wilkinson hit a sharp ground ball to second base with two outs and runners on second and third. The Bears’ second basemen bobbled the ball which let the first run of the game come in, but the runner from second base was called out on a bang-bang play at the plate. After four, the Indians held a 1-0 lead.

The offense applied more pressure in the top of the sixth inning when Levi Perrell and Luke Spiva hit back-to-back one-out singles. With runners on the corners, LR threw away a pitch-out attempt to allow Catawba’s second run of the game to touch home. The Indians continued to threaten following a walk to Dylan Driver and a single off the bat of Henderson Lentz.

With the bases loaded, Dylan Wilkinson laced a hard-hit grounder to short, but LR got the force out at home for the second out. The opportunity fizzled out after the next batter struck out to leave the lead at two runs.

Two innings later in the top of the eighth, Catawba once again had the bases loaded with two outs, but after a pitching change, a strikeout left the runners stranded and moved the game to the bottom of the eighth.

Ben Gilks came back out to the bump with 112 pitches thrown but walked the first batter. Jim Gantt went to his bullpen and turned to closer Robbie Cowie. The first two batters Cowie faced drew back-to-back walks which loaded the bases with no outs in the frame. LR’s next batter hit ground ball just past a diving Cameron Mills for an RBI base hit, then the Bears hit a bloop single to center as the game moved to a 2-2 tie.

The all-conference reliever locked in and struck out the next three batters in a row as the game sat tied going to the ninth.

Catawba was retired in order in the top of the ninth to bring the Bears back to the plate. The leadoff man singled, the next runner reached safely on a bunt, and the third batter laced the game-winning RBI single to end the game in walk-off fashion. Catawba fell, 3-2.

The Indians will play an elimination game tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. against Newberry to keep their season alive.

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