FOREST CITY, N.C. - Mario Rojas scattered three hits over 7.2 innings and Evan Darr hit a two-run home run as sixth-seeded Newberry College upset top-seeded Catawba College 4-2 in the opening game of the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament at McNair Field Wednesday afternoon.
Rojas (Miami, Fla.) worked out of jams in the fifth and seventh innings to improve to 5-2 this season, and Tyler Sturkie (West Columbia, S.C.) escaped an eighth-inning threat en route to his seventh save of the season for the Wolves (23-25), who will play Thursday at 3:45 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday's third game between Lincoln Memorial and Tusculum.
The opening win is the first time Newberry has advanced to the winner's bracket of the tournament since 2005.
The Catawba Indians (36-9) left 10 runners on base as their 10-game winning streak came to an end. Catawba will play an elimination game at noon Thursday against the loser of Wednesday's second game between Wingate and Carson-Newman.
SAC Pitcher of the Year Nick Lomascolo (Mooresville, N.C.) took the loss for the Indians, settling down after allowing four runs in the first three innings to retire 17 of the Wolves' final 18 batters, including 12 in a row to finish the game.
Newberry finished with just three hits and had just six baserunners against Lomascolo (8-2), but made the most of their opportunities to come away with the victory. In addition to the two-run homerun by Darr (North Augusta, S.C.), Sanchez Gartman (Newberry, S.C.) had a tiebreaking two-run double in the third inning after Lomascolo issued back-to-back walks with two outs.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when SAC Freshman of the Year Chris Dula (Troutman, N.C.) launched a solo homerun down the left field line, his eighth round-tripper of the season.
The Wolves responded in the top half of the second as Jovan Rohena (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) doubled with two outs and scored as Darr drove a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left for his second home run of the season and a 2-1 lead.
Catawba tied the game in the bottom of the frame, but missed out on a chance for a big inning. The Indians loaded the bases with nobody out as Rojas hit back-to-back batters and followed with a walk. Blake Houston (Mt. Ulla, N.C.) grounded into a fielder's choice to knock in John Neese (Summerfield, N.C.) with the tying run, but Rojas induced a 6-4-3 double play to escape with no further damage.
In the third, Lomascolo quickly dispatched of the first two batters but walked John Fogarile (New York, N.Y.) and Chris Love (Columbia, S.C.) to put two runners on base. Gartman came through with a double to the wall in deep right-center to bring home Fogarile and Love for a 4-2 Newberry lead.
Rojas worked around a one-out double by Neese in the fourth, then escaped a first-and-second, one-out jam in the fifth by getting a strikeout and a foul out. In the seventh, the Indians loaded the bases with two outs, but Garrett Furr (Gold Hill, N.C.) flied out to deep center to end the inning.
Working into the eighth, Rojas departed after a one-out walk to Austin Moyer (Greensboro, N.C.) after throwing 130 pitches. When reliever D.J. Hearsey (Oviedo, Fla.) issued a walk to Brett Underwood (Greensboro, N.C.) to put two on with one out, Sturkie was summoned from the Wolves' bullpen. Houston reached on a fielder's choice grounder to leave runners at the corners, but Julio Zubillaga (China Grove, N.C.) went down swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the threat.
Catawba mounted one final rally in the ninth, but Dula grounded into a 5-4-3 double play with a runner at first and one out to end the game.
The Indians' Josh Hohn (Greensboro, N.C.) was the lone player on either team to record more than one hit in the game, finishing 2-for-5 with a stolen base.
Newberry 4, Catawba 2
(Apr 20, 2011 at Forest City, N.C.)
Newberry............ 022 000 000 - 4 3 2 (23-25)
Catawba............. 110 000 000 - 2 4 0 (36-9)
Pitchers: Newberry - Mario Rojas; DJ Hearsey(8); Tyler Sturkie(8) and Chas Goodwin. Catawba - Nick Lomascolo and Josh Hohn.
Win-Mario Rojas(5-2) Save-Tyler Sturkie(7) Loss-Nick Lomascolo(8-2) T-2:32 A-254
HR NEW - Evan Darr (2).
HR CATBB - Chris Dula (8).
Weather: Cloudy, 70, wind 9 to left
FULL BOX SCORE