FOREST CITY, N.C. — Catawba right-hander Shaefer Shepard carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and the top-ranked Indians scored four early runs to eliminate the third-seeded Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters from the 2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship on Saturday.
The Railsplitters (27-17-1) — the defending SAC Champions — must hope for an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional in order for their season to continue, while Catawba (30-17) advanced to challenge Wingate Saturday evening.
For the third straight tournament contest, the Railsplitters were involved with a complete game. Junior Logan Sawyer tossed a masterful complete game to lead Lincoln Memorial past Newberry on Thursday, while Wingate’s Olen Little sent the Railsplitters into the loser’s bracket with a gem on Friday night. It was Catawba’s Shaefer Shepard who provided the third complete game, as he befuddled the Railsplitters through 6 2/3 hitless innings on Saturday before finalizing his CG.
The Railsplitters finally broke through on Shepard with two outs in the seventh as Josh Coker drove a single through the right side of the infield, but it would take Lincoln Memorial into the ninth before scoring a run. Scott Miller and Jonathan Lowe singled in consecutive at-bats, while Kyle Floyd scored them both with a two-out double. But that would be all the Railsplitters would get despite bringing the tying run to the plate in the inning.
Shepard finished with nine innings pitched, four hits allowed, two runs and nine strikeouts to improve to 7-1 on the season.
The Indians did all of their damage off of Lincoln Memorial starter Wes Todd in the first three innings.
In the bottom of the first, Blake Houston belted a leadoff double and Keaton Hawks singled into right center, where a throwing error allowed Houston to score and Hawks to advance into scoring position. A T.J. Wharton two-out single plated Hawks to prop the Indians to a 2-0 advantage. Two innings later, Paul Kronenfeld walked while Hawks reached and advanced to second on a throwing error by Ryan Burlison. Ethan Satterfield took advantage of the scoring opportunity with a two-run single into right field.
After the trouble he experienced through the first three frames, Wes Todd settled into a groove and allowed only one hit over the final four innings of his start. Todd fell to 5-3 despite allowing only one earned run on five hits in seven-strong innings. Senior Ian Creager pitched the eighth for the Railsplitters, surrendering one hit without a run while fanning one.
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Wes Todd, Ian Creager(8) and Kyle Floyd; Shaefer Shepard and Jon Wallace. W-Shepard (7-1). L-Todd (5-3).