The 19th-ranked Catawba Valley Community College baseball team kicked off its season with a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday afternoon against USC Union at Big League Camp.
With the victories, CVCC head coach Paul Rozzelle tied and then surpassed his mentor and friend Frank Pait as the all-time winningest coach in program history with his 189th victory.
“Coach Pait is the goat, and everything to me,” Rozzelle said. “This is pretty crazy and surreal. I’m just very grateful to our players. I’ve not won one baseball game for Catawba Valley Community College, but I’ve lost a bunch. The players are the ones who win it. This is 100 percent an honor for the players I’ve coached. It’s a great moment and a special moment. At the end of the day, though, we are 2-0 on the season.”
Game one: No. 19 CVCC 12, USC Union 5
Trailing by a run early, the Red Hawks used a six-run third inning to propel themselves into the lead on the way to a season-opening seven-run win against the Bantams in game one of the twin bill.
Catawba Valley tallied 12 hits in the contest, including two apiece off the bats of second baseman Chandler Blackwelder, designated hitter Colt Byars and shortstop Kye Andress.
The big third inning for CVCC started with a two-run single from third baseman Jackie Jimenez. Andress, Lane Rhodes and Malik Stephens would also plate one run each during the inning for Catawba Valley.
The Red Hawks added five more runs in the sixth inning, including a two-run double by James Hinson, an RBI triple from Brett Eurey, an RBI double from Jose Vargas and an RBI single by Rhodes.
Freshman pitcher Matias Marchesini earned the win on the mound in relief for CVCC, improving to 1-0 on the season. He allowed two hits, no runs and one walk in his two-inning appearance.
Red Hawk starting pitcher Jordan Davis and relievers Trey Lambert, Derrius York, Jonah Milchuck and Marchesini combined to allow just three earned runs, seven hits and struck out seven Bantam batters.
Game two: No. 19 CVCC 7, USC Union 2
Second baseman Chandler Blackwelder tallied two hits, including a three-run home run, leading the Red Hawks to the game two win and sweep against the Bantams.
After scoring one run in each of the first three innings to take an early 3-2 lead, Blackwelder added his fourth-inning blast — the first home run of the season for CVCC — to make it four-run Red Hawk lead.
Outfielders Masashi Takegama and Brett Eurey and third baseman Jordan Montgomery also had two hits apiece for the Red Hawks on offense in game two. Takegama and Montgomery both recorded an RBI double each in the contest.
On the mound, CVCC pitchers combined to allow only four USC Union hits and two earned runs — both coming in the bottom of the first inning.
Ian Asken earned the victory on the mound, giving up no runs, no hits, one walk and striking out two batters in two innings of work.
The CVCC baseball team returns to action this weekend with a pair of doubleheaders against USC Salkehatchie on Saturday and Sunday at Henkel-Alley Field. Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 1 p.m., while Sundays’ twin-bill is set for a noon start.