Baseball

Hanes' Grand Slam Pushes Baseball Past Aquinas

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Malachi Hanes (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) hit a grand slam and Bryan Ketchie (Woodleaf, N.C./W. Rowan) earned his fourth win as 22nd-ranked Catawba topped visiting St. Thomas Aquinas 8-4 in baseball action on Sunday afternoon at Newman Park.  The Catawba Indians improve to 16-7 and up its home mark to 12-1.  The Spartans fall to 6-5.

Down 1-0 after Spartan right fielder Giovanni Dingcong hit a one-out homer in the fourth, the Indians tied it in the bottom half on a two-out double by Hunter Shepherd (Salisbury, N.C./Homeschool).  Catawba went on top for good in the fifth.  Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) doubled home a run and after a pair of walks, Hanes hit his home run to right field to put Catawba up 6-1.

The Spartans got to Ketchie again with two outs in the sixth.  Cris Ruiz followed a Juan Adorno single with a home run to cut Catawba’s lead to 6-3.  Dingcong followed a two-out Catawba error with a RBI single in the seventh to make it 6-4.

Catawba got some insurance late.  Jackson Raper (Concord, N.C./Robinson) had a pinch-hit single with two outs in the seventh to plate Hanes for a 7-4 edge and Bryce Fowler (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Presbyterian) had a two-out RBI single in the eighth to make it 8-4.

Five Catawba relievers did not allow an earned run over the final three and a third innings.  Ketchie improved to 4-1 on the hill, giving up three runs while scattering eight hits with no walks and five punch outs.  Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) struck out two with a perfect ninth to close the game out.

Simpson and Shepherd each had three hits to lead the Catawba offense.  Hanes had two hits and the four RBI on one swing.  Nicholas Lucchese picked up three hits for St. Thomas Aquinas with Dingcong getting two.

Catawba is back at home on Tuesday, hosting Belmont Abbey at 5 pm.

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