Tigerville – A two-run eighth inning proved the difference in game one of the Southeast Super Regional as Catawba topped North Greenville 4-3 at Rae & Bea Dillard Field.
North Greenville looked to be off to a hot start as John Michael Faile smashed a solo homer in the first inning to give NGU the 1-0 lead. Michael Giacone worked around a leadoff single in the second inning to keep the Indians off the board.
The Crusaders were also held scoreless in the frame as Catawba starter Bryan Ketchie tossed 6.2-innings, holding NGU scoreless for five of those frames. Catawba's offense put up a pair of runs in the third inning to put the Crusaders in a 2-1 hole. Neither of the scores were earned. Giacone finished his night after seven complete frames, allowing just four hits.
The Indians held on to their one-run lead until the seventh inning when North Greenville manufactured some offense. The Crusaders loaded the bases and got an RBI fielder’s choice from Lex Tuten to even the tally at 2-2 while the go-ahead run would score on a passed ball to give the Crusaders a 3-2 lead with two innings left.
The lead didn’t last long for NGU. The Indians evened it at 3-3 in the eighth executing on a hit-and-run which brought around the tying run on an RBI single. The Indians tacked on one more run on the next batter as an errant throw brought home the go-ahead score to make it 4-3.
Catawba stranded a runner in the visitor’s half of the ninth to give NGU one more shot but the Crusaders were unable to push one across, stranding the tying run on first base. North Greenville finished with five runners left on base while the Indians stranded seven.
The Crusaders were uncharacteristically held to just three hits on the night including Faile’s first-inning homer. Utah Jones and Adam Sasser also reached safely on base hits. Kipp Rollings was credited with the loss after giving up two runs on three hits.
North Greenville will have to win twice on Saturday to earn the program’s first trip to Cary, North Carolina, and the Division II World Series while the Indians only need one win. First pitch Saturday’s game is scheduled for 4 PM with an 8 o’clock first pitch if necessary.