College World Series: Delta State 6, Catawba 5
By Ryan Bisesi
CARY — It’s hard to win a baseball game with five hits.
But make six errors and things really get complicated.
A quiet afternoon at Coleman Field turned bizarre Tuesday and the efficient route to the finals for Catawba disappeared in a 6-5 loss to Delta State in the second round of the Division II College World Series at the USA Baseball Complex.
For much of the year, the Indians have been steady on the diamond, which seemed more like a Bermuda Triangle this time.
“Sometimes you go to the mound to take the pitcher out and you’d like to take the infielders out,” Catawba coach Jim Gantt said. “If you make six errors you’re lucky to even be in the game.”
Starting pitcher and N. C. State transfer Nate King had one of the more peculiar pitching lines of the season, allowing just three hits, but six runs, three unearned. Catawba’s line score was equally quirky, sporting a 5-9-6. The Indians outhit their foe 9-5 but saw a 5-3 lead slip away in the last four innings.
“I don’t want to say it was panic or anything,” Gantt said. “There were some tough plays there on the line with the runner bearing down.”
Opportunities came to tie the game but Delta reliever Ricky Winters threw four scoreless innings after Colton Mitchell was lifted in the third.
“Winters gave us a chance to get back in it,” Delta coach Mike Kinnison said. “He came in and calmed things down.”
The fourth-ranked Indians (44-16) got their first two to reach base in the ninth against Brandon Hardin. Hardin got Julio Zubillaga to pop out to third on a bunt attempt and Brett Underwood to strike out. Ethan Satterfield made it to third when Justin Morris made it out of a rundown between first and second at first base.
Greg Lawson grounded out to third to end it.
The Indians, who won four straight to take the Southeast Regional in Mount Olive, will have to pull similar heroics now. No. 1-ranked St. Mary’s (49-10) looms today at 7 p.m. with Ross Whitley scheduled to start on the mound in an elimination game. The winner will face Delta State Thursday at 3 p.m.
Catawba made three miscues in the seventh when Delta took the lead for good. Jordan Chovanec singled off pitcher John Tuttle’s glove with the bases loaded to score Brent Kakwitch. Kakwitch reached on an error and went to third on a throwing error on a sac bunt.
Controversy ruled the eighth when Chris Dula collided with Delta first baseman Brent Langston on a pop up down the base line. The play was originally ruled as a single with Dula winding up at first and Cameron Beard advancing to third. After the umpires gathered, Dula was called out for failing to avoid Langston after dodging catcher Jon Carnahan. Beard went back to second with two down and Ryan Bostian flew out to end the threat.
“I hit it and thought it was going foul,” Dula said. “I looked up and saw it coming back and took off running with my head down.”
“You can’t really dodge every fielder out there,” Gantt said. “I think they got the call correct. Once they talked and then called me out, I sort of deferred because I knew what they were going to say.”
King bounced back from a rough first inning and helped the Indians get back in it. Ethan Satterfield walked with the bases loaded and Garrett Furr hit a sacrifice fly to left to tie it in top of the third.
Delta got the edge back in the third when the Indians made a pair of infield errors. Beard was wide on a throw to first and King misfired on a pickoff attempt and Josh Crowdus found himself at third. Sam Kidd got a run home on a sac fly for a 3-2 lead.
The Indians jumped out with three runs in the fourth. Keaton Hawks’ singled up the middle to load the bases with no one out. Two batters later, Bostian drove in a pair with a single to left and Satterfield did the same one batter later.
Satterfield was stranded at third to end the game after collecting three hits and driving in a pair.
“Baseball’s one of those crazy games,” King said. “Anything can happen. We’ve just got to flush it and forget about it.”
NOTES: Whitley brings a 4.99 ERA and a 7-3 record into today’s start. “He was already told before today he was going to pitch,” Gantt said. “We know we’re going to use Tuttle in relief. After that, I don’t know.” … St. Mary’s clobbered Indianapolis 13-2 Tuesday after fell to Delta State 4-1 in its opener.