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Bat Pats advance to conference final four

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By The Staff

SCC Sports Information

One of the catchwords in today’s athletic lexicon is “focus.” Coaches talk to the players about the need for it, announcers will tell us who they think has such and who doesn’t. But all who saw Friday’s doubleheader against the University of the Cumberlands would agree that the St. Catharine College baseball team was focused on the task at hand.

“The situation is that we have a lot of seniors, and they are not ready to end their careers,” said Bat Pats head coach Luther Bramblett. “From top to bottom, our lineup was more focused than it has been all season.”

Such focus resulted in a sweep of visiting Cumberlands that allowed St. Catharine to advance to this week’s final four of the Mid-South Conference tournament to be played at Campbellsville University. The Patriots will start play there Thursday against the host Campbellsville Tigers with a 4:30 game. The other first round game will pit Rio Grande against Georgetown. The double-elimination tournament will conclude on Saturday.

In Friday’s opener, the Patriots downed Cumberlands 12-2 in a game scheduled for nine innings, but shortened to seven innings due to the 10-run rule. St. Catharine took the lead for good at 4-2 when they scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Typical of the “top to bottom hitting” to which Bramblett referred, the seven, eight and nine hitters in the lineup scored the three runs. Tyler Mischel, Ryan Mangione and Josh Landers all singled to start the inning. Two scored on a single by leadoff hitter Chris Smith and the third run came in on a Kaleb Henry sacrifice fly.

Back-to-back doubles by Adam Blair and Philip Dean plated another run in the third inning. Four more scored in the fourth frame when Henry hit a solo homer, Mangione doubled in two runs and Landers singled in another.

The bottom of the lineup again came through in the sixth inning when Dean and Mischel walked and Landers drilled a three-run homer to straight center field.

Meanwhile, senior right hander Travis Adams, held Cumberlands (28-28) scoreless after surrendering single runs in the first and second innings. Adams went the distance in improving his record to 7-3. He scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out three.

The Patriots (36-20) had to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the second game to win 7-5. Batting as the home team in game two, Cumberlands took a 3-0 first-inning lead on Kyle Cochis’ three-run homer.

Dean made it a 3-2 game with a two-run shot in the second, and the Patriots took a 4-3 lead in the third when Brian Jones doubled in Henry and Justin Witt who had singled.

Cumberlands tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the third, but St. Catharine took the lead for good in the fourth inning when Mischel and Mangione both scored on wild pitches. Blair doubled and Dean singled for the Patriots’ final run in the fifth inning.

Starting pitcher Nick Holmes (5-5) picked up the win. The senior right hander from Campbellsville allowed five runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked four. Tim Paxton earned his second save of the season by pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings, in which he allowed two hits.

Now the Patriots set their sights on Campbellsville, the top- seeded team in the conference and the regular season champion with a 37-18 overall record. “They have three quality arms on their staff and good hitting throughout the lineup,” said Bramblett. “The key for us is to score when we have the opportunities, and for our pitchers to get ahead in the count and make them more defensive hitters.”