Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Lenoir-Rhyne baseball team didn’t blink and came back to walkoff Catawba 3-2 with an RBI hit from Drew Yniesta in the bottom of the ninth. With the win, Lenoir-Rhyne moves to 2-0 in the SAC Tournament and will play Wingate on Sunday morning with the winner earning a spot in Monday’s championship game.
The Lenoir-Rhyne bats were cold for the first seven innings of this game, mustering just a pair of hits against Catawba starter Ben Gilkes. Catawba was kept off the board by LR starter Andrew Patrick until an error in the top of the fourth plated the first run of the game.
Catawba would make it 2-0 on a wild pitch. Gilkes was pulled after seven strong innings and 117 pitches thrown in favor of junior Robbie Cowie.
The Bears had two hits off Cowie in the eighth inning and Cole Laskowski reached via a base on balls to open the inning. Yniesta and Nick Clarno followed with walks of their own to load the bases with no one out.
Atiles broke the scoreless drought with an RBI single and Anthony Porrino followed with a base hit of his own to pull LR even at 2-2. The first five batters all reached in the eighth but Cowie settled down to strike out the next three Bears in a row.
Ben Friebel came on and retired Catawba 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to send the Bears back to the batter’s box. David Bell started the ninth win a single down the left field line and Laskowski singled to the pitcher. On a 1-0 count, Yniesta laced a base hit to left center for the game-winning base hit.
In total, LR had five hits in 1+ inning of relief for Cowie. Patrick’s final line was 5.1 innings pitched with four hits allowed and two runs (one earned) to go with seven strikeouts.
Braden Houston, Spencer Floyd, Michael Allen and Friebel all put up zeroes over the final 3.2 innings.
The Bears were able to avenge a 3-game sweep at the hands of Catawba during the regular season. In that sweep, LR lost the three games by a combined five runs and were walked off in the series opener in the 10th inning.
Laskowski was the only Bear with more than one hit in the game. This was Patrick’s first-ever appearance in the SAC Tournament.
The Bears are in search of their first SAC Tournament title since winning in 2001. With their win yesterday, LR snapped a nine-game losing streak in the SAC Tournament and it was their first win in the league tourney since 2006.