The 11th-ranked Catawba Valley Community College baseball team won two of three games against Bryant & Stratton College on Saturday and Sunday in its opening conference series of the 2018 season.
The Red Hawks (13-7, 2-1 in Region X) dropped a competitive 6-4 match up in the first game of the three-game set before powering back to win 4-2 and 11-0 in games two and three.
Game one: Bryant & Stratton 6, No. 11 Catawba Valley 4
The Red Hawks watched an early three-run lead evaporate in a two-run loss in the series opener against the Bobcats on Saturday.
After a Kevin Russell RBI single gave Bryant & Stratton an early 1-0 lead through one inning, Catawba Valley responded with a four-run second inning, including an RBI single by R.J. Conner, an RBI double by Cory Watt and a RBI groundout by Jimmy Marcelli.
Bryant & Stratton slowly whittled CVCC’s lead away, scoring one run in the third, fifth and sixth innings and two runs in the fourth inning to pull ahead in the contest.
Bobcat starting pitcher Seth Houston held the Red Hawk bats at bay to secure his team’s victory. Houston allowed just five hits and struck out 10 batters to earn the win.
CVCC pitcher Julian Smith suffered his first loss of the season, allowing three hits, four runs (three earned) and six walks, and he struck out nine batters.
Game two: No. 11 Catawba Valley 4, Bryant & Stratton 2
Tied 1-1 through eight innings, the Red Hawks scored three runs in the ninth inning and held off a late charge by the Bobcats to earn a two-run Region X win.
Bryant & Stratton took a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single from Kevin Urena, but that lead was short lived.
Catawba Valley tied the contest in the top of the third inning on an RBI single from Jimmy Marcelli, which plated Matt Yarbrough.
The two teams remained deadlocked until the ninth inning when Cory Watt’s leadoff home run to left field broke the tie for good. The Red Hawks added a pair insurance runs in the inning on RBI singles from Willie Gordon and Matt Tilley.
The Bobcats made a comeback charge in the bottom of the ninth inning and were able to load the bases, scoring one run on the a bases loaded walk by Conner Hanes.
However, CVCC closing pitcher Kevin Finzer was able to minimize the damage to one run and earn the save, closing out CVCC’s first conference win of the season.
Red Hawks starting pitcher Harry Hatcher allowed three hits, one earned run, three walks and struck out five in a solid quality start for the sophomore from Hickory, N.C.
Catawba Valley pitcher Nic Messina relieved Hatcher in the seventh inning, earning his second win of the season. Messina allowed one hit, one earned run, three walks and struck out two.
Game three: No. 11 Catawba Valley 11, Bryant & Stratton 0
The Red Hawks put on an offense onslaught in the final game of the series against the Bobcats on Sunday, tallying 11 runs on 15 hits to earn their fourth shutout win of the season.
Tyler Campbell and Garrison Burress led the charge for Catawba Valley. Both freshmen drove in three runs on three hits, including a two-run home run by Campbell in the fifth inning and a solo home run by Burress in the sixth inning.
Second baseman Jimmy Marcelli also drove in three runs for the Red Hawks on two hits, including a double in the fourth inning.
On the mound, CVCC starting pitcher Trae Starnes allowing just three hits, three walks and struck out one batter to earn the victory. Conner Hewell closed out the last inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
The Red Hawks return to the diamond on Wednesday for a home doubleheader against the Limestone JV squad. Catawba Valley swept its road series with the Saints on Feb. 14 — 5-0 and 12-0.
First pitch for Wednesday’s first game at Henkel-Alley Field is slated for 2 p.m.