For most of the season the St. Catharine College baseball team has had issues with getting the big hit to drive in runners in scoring position. And that problem proved to be the Bat Pats final undoing as they dropped two consecutive games in the Mid-South Conference tournament.
Luther Bramblett’s team, which finished 37-21 for the season, won the opener 2-1 Thursday against Georgetown. But on Friday SCC fell to Lindsey Wilson 8-3 and then to Rio Grande 7-3 in Saturday’s action played in Kingsport, Tenn.
“I hate it for the seniors,” said Bramblett following the game. “They have shown great leadership. They played hard and competed well.”
Competed very well, especially in Thursday’s win over rival Georgetown, a team they didn’t play in the regular season. St. Catharine junior right-hander Eddie Rivera tossed 121 pitches in the victory. And, of course, none was bigger than the last one when he got a ground out to first base with the bases loaded to end the game, giving the Bat Pats the 2-1 win.
Rivera (7-2) went the distance, allowing one unearned run on five hits. He walked four and struck out nine. The Tigers (33-16) plated their only run in the second inning when Rivera issued one of his four walks, then sent the runner to second on a pick-off throw from where he scored on a single.
The Bat Pats (37-19) tied the score in the top of the fifth. Joey Xavier singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a Jeremy Turpin sacrifice bunt. Xavier went to third when the Tigers’ first baseman misplayed Joel Cooper’s grounder and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Joey Andrada.
It was small ball again when the Patriots scored what turned out to be the winning run in the seventh inning. Adrian Garcia bunted for a base hit and went to second on a sacrifice by Xavier. A single by Turpin sent Garcia to third and he scored on a Cooper ground out to shortstop.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Georgetown in the ninth inning with two outs, but Rivera got TC O’Neal to ground to Xavier at first to end the game.
Thursday’s win sent the Bat Pats to the winner’s bracket semifinals, where they played Lindsey Wilson. The Blue Raiders (40-16) scored four runs in the fourth inning en route to the 8-3 win. The Bat Pats stranded eight runners in the contest.
Carlos Hernandez, Tyler Mischel and Trevor Schneider each had two hits as St. Catharine collected 10 hits for the game. Dylan Shoffner took the loss, allowing six runs, just two earned, on 11 hits in 5.2 innings.
Trenton Claunch pitched the final three innings and gave up two runs, none earned, on three hits.
“Leaving runners on base was definitely a factor, but our defense was also not very good,” added Bramblett. “They scored eight runs, but just three were earned.”
Saturday’s game started out well against Rio Grande (35-19) as the Patriots scored three runs in the top of the first inning. But that was all they could get as they got just six hits in absorbing the season ending 7-3 loss.
A total of 10 Patriot runners were stranded as they couldn’t take advantage of two RedStorm errors and two hit batters to go along with the six hits, one each by six different players.
Andrew Nelson was the losing pitcher, giving up all seven runs, four earned, in 4.1 innings. Cory Klinger tossed scoreless, two-hit ball for 2.1 innings and Matt Wagner pitched one inning, allowing no runs on one hit.
The 37 victories this season ties for the most wins St. Catharine has recorded in a single season since joining the NAIA in 2009. It is the 11th consecutive season, out of 12 total seasons coached, that Luther Bramblett’s teams have notched at least 30 wins.
“We definitely have some big holes to fill in losing 11 seniors,” said the Bat Pats skipper. “Not only talent-wise, but in the leadership these guys provided.”