Baseball Uses Late Rally to Win SAC Tourney Opener
HICKORY, NC -- Junior Jerry Sands (Clayton, NC/Smithfield-Selma HS) hit the second of his two home runs in a seven-run eighth inning as top-seeded Catawba rallied from a four-run deficit to beat Wingate 10-7 in the opening game of the 2008 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament. Catawba, who wins for the season best seventh straight time, improves to 35-14 and advances to play Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday afternoon. Wingate fall to 19-33 and plays Newberry in an elimination game.
Wingate took a quick 1-0 lead in the top half of the first. Nick Siega-Riz (Clemmons, NC) led off with a single to right and later scored on a double by Bulldog designated hitter Heath Weatherford (Rockingham, NC). The top-seeded Indians would answer, adding a single run in each of the next three innings. Sands, a first-team All-SAC selection, homered to knot the game in the first at 1-1, drilled his league-leading 19th blast into the trees beyond right field.
Catawba took a 2-1 lead the next inning with a pair of two-out hits. Senior Matt Kepley’s (Greensboro, NC/Ragsdale HS) second double of the year scored Bubba Morris (Spencer, NC/N. Rowan HS), who singled, to give the Indians the lead. Indian catcher Ryan Query (Kannapolis, NC/Brown HS) stretched the lead to 3-1, driving in Sands with a two-out rip to centerfield to single Sands home.
Wingate answered in a big way in the fourth.
Aaron Knowles’ (Hope Town, BAHAMAS) two-out grand slam gave the Bulldogs a 5-3 lead, as Wingate took advantage of a two-out Indian error, a double by Alex Chapman (Morganton, NC) and a walk to Siega-Riz to load the bases. The Bulldogs added a run top of the fifth as Weatherford lined his team-leading 11th home run out to right center.
Wingate stretched its lead to 7-3 with a run in eighth, but failed to put the game away when David Thomas (Winston-Salem, NC/Ledford HS) threw out a runner at the plate after a bases loaded single by Knowles brought home a single run. Tim Holmes (Bay Village, OH/Bay HS) got Blair Troutman on a pop up to avoid further damage.
Catawba would answer with a decisive eighth, rallying for seven runs, and showing why it captured the 2008 South Atlantic Conference regular season title. Craige Lyerly (Salisbury, NC/E. Rowan HS) laced a one-out solo home run to left center, slicing the lead to three at 7-4. With two outs and a runner on, Morris was hit by a pitch and Kepley reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Thomas, the SAC Player of the Year, delivered a two run single through the right side to slice the lead to 7-6 to chase Bulldog starter Dusty White. Chad Baker (Jamestown, NC/Ragsdale HS) greeted Cameron Falcon (Durham, NC) with a two-run double off the wall in left field to give the Tribe an 8-7 lead. Sands added some insurance, drilling his second home run of the day, a two-run shot to give the Indians a three-run lead at 10-7.
Sands finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored. Query delivered four hits and Kepley three. Holmes improved to 4-1 with his win in relief for the Indians. He worked two innings, allowing one run and striking out three. Indian starter Blake Ketner (Davidson, NC/NW Cabarrus HS) went six innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits. Tim Smith (Walnut Cove, NC/S. Stokes HS) came on to close out the ninth for his first save.
White dropped to 5-5, allowing seven earned runs and 12 hits in seven and-two thirds innings of work. Weatherford finished 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, and two RBIs to lead Wingate. Kevin Childs also had three hits for the Bulldogs.Related Item: Box Score