MARS HILL, N.C. – The Lions dropped a South Atlantic Conference baseball double-header to Catawba on Sunday afternoon at Henderson Field. Mars Hill fell to 23-20 overall and an even 9-9 in the league. The Indians improved to 27-11 on the season, 13-5 in the SAC.
Game 1: Catawba 7, Mars Hill 6 (8 innings)
Gray McCurry went 1-3 with a homerun and three RBI to lead the Lions offensively. Brett Brubaker went 2-4 with a double while Hunter Merrill went 1-3 with a homerun. Tom Mastrodonato suffered the loss (2-1) pitching the final 2.2 innings in relief.
Luke Setzer led Catawba at the plate going 5-5 with a run scored and a RBI. Zach Almond followed going 2-4 with a homerun, a double and three RBI. Connor Johnson obtained the win (6-1) throwing 4.2 innings in relief. He allowed just one hit while striking out six batters. Bryan Blanton picked up his ninth save on the season pitching the final inning of the game.
Catawba jumped out to a 4-0 lead in their first at-bat. Zach Almond hit a three run homerun before Malachi Hanes hit a solo homerun to right field. Hunter Merrill led off the Lions half of the inning with a homerun to left-center field to make the score 4-1.
Devin Mangum doubled down the right field line to drive in Lance Edwards and bring the Lions with two runs (4-2) of the Indians. The Lions took a 6-4 lead in the fourth inning. Christian Stampler singled to drive in Brett Brubaker before Gray McCurry belted a three-run homerun to left field.
Catawba tied the contest in the fifth frame after Nick Coble hit a two-run homerun to left field. Setzer singled down the right field line with two outs in the eighth inning to drive in Ben Bomberger for what would later prove to be the game winning score.
Game 2: Catawba 11, Mars Hill 8
Brett Brubaker went 3-3 at the plate with two homeruns and three RBI to lead the Lions' offense. Lance Edwards went 1-4 with a grand slam homerun. Blaine Farrell took the loss (3-4) pitching in relief.
Zach Almond went 1-3 with a double and four RBI while Setzer was 2-5 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and a RBI. Clay Young picked up the win (2-0) throwing 0.2 innings in relief. Blanton who earned his ninth save in game one, notched his tenth save in game two pitching the last inning as he struck out the side.
Chance Bowden hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in Jeremy Simpson and give the Indians a 1-0 lead after their first at-bat. Lance Edwards hit a grand slam homerun in the second inning to give Mars Hill a 4-1 advantage. After Catawba added a single run in the top of the third inning, Stampler hit a lead-off homerun down the left field line in the bottom half of the inning to extend the Lions' advantage to 5-2.
Simpson hit a single up the middle to plate Cameron Morrison and Jackson Raper to trim the Lions' lead to 5-4. Brubaker hit a solo homerun to right field in the bottom of the fourth inning to give MHU a 6-4 advantage.
Setzer doubled to left-center field to drive in Raper to bring the Indians within one run of the Lions (6-5). Brubaker belted a two-run homerun in the bottom half of the sixth inning to give Mars Hill an 8-5 lead. Unfortunately, Catawba scored six runs on four hits and one Lion miscue to secure the 11-8 victory. The inning was highlighted by two RBI double from Almond.
Mars Hill will play a three-game SAC series at Lenoir-Rhyne next weekend. The teams will play a single game at 6 p.m. on Friday evening and then play a double header on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.