NEWBERRY – The Newberry College Wolves avoided a series sweep on Saturday as they split the twin bill with the Catawba College Indians, dropping the first game 6-4 and winning the second 1-0.
The Wolves are now 9-6 overall and 5-4 in the South Atlantic Conference while the Indians sit at 11-3 and 5-3 in the SAC.
Cole Cromer (North Augusta, S.C.) was the shining star for Newberry on the afternoon as he tossed his second complete game win of the season in a four hit shutout. The senior right-hander struck out seven without surrendering a walk in the outing.
Brandan Sheridan (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the way for Newberry on the offensive side as he was a team leading 3-for-7 in the two games combined. The senior picked up a double, a run batted in and also scored a run for the Wolves.
JoJo Bradley (Spartanburg, S.C.) way the only other player for Newberry to tally multiple hits in the two games as he was 2-for-7 with a double and a RBI.
The first game featured two of the top pitchers in the South Atlantic Conference as staff ace Wesley Camp (Pelion, S.C.) took the ball for the Wolves and Catawba countered with their ace Craig Brooks.
Both seniors are at the top of every pitching statistical category in the league, but unfortunately only one was able to win.
The first two innings were quite for both sides but the Indians struck first as they scored three runs with two outs int he top half of the third inning. Three singles in a row loaded the bases for Catawba and left fielder Will Albertson drove a 1-0 change-up to the right center gap to record a bases clearing double.
Camp worked his way out of the jam but by the end of the inning the visitors from Salisbury carried a 3-0 lead.
Catawba tacked on another run in the fifth as a leadoff walk came around to score and then posted two more runs, both unearned, in the sixth after a leadoff error extended the inning to make the score 6-0.
Brooks cruised through the first six innings, only allowing three base runners. Bradley smoked a single to left on a 1-0 fastball but was left stranded at second in the bottom of the first. While D.J. Martinez (Montpelier, Va.) and Alex Kirby (Chapin, S.C.) both reached on errors, as Martinez was stranded at first while Kirby made it to third but was not able to score.
However, the Wolves got something going in the home half of the seventh as Jeff Sneed (Cumming, Ga.) reached on an error by the second baseman to lead off the inning. Sheridan followed up with a double to right field to put runners on second and third with nobody out.
Brooks recorded a strikeout but not before a passed ball allowed Sneed to score and the following batter, Martinez, grounded out to the first baseman but knocked in Sheridan from third to cut the score to 6-2.
Another scoreless inning in the top of the eighth left the Wolves with hope as Robert Kosch (Clemson, S.C.) picked up a one out walk in the bottom of the inning. After a line-out by Bradley, Baur came to the plate and with 1-2 count and two outs, he hit a laser over the centerfield fence for his third home run of the series and his sixth of the season to put the Wolves within two going into the final frame.
A leadoff single by Sheridan in the home half of ninth gave Newberry life but a lineout and fielder’s choice left the Wolves down to their final out.
Tommy Passerello (Davenport, Fla.) picked up a pinch hit single to put runners on first and second with two away but Catawba closer Ryan McClintock had other ideas as he struck out the final batter to record his fourth save of the season.
Brooks picked up his third win of the season (3-1) for the Indians after going eight complete innings, scattering three hits and giving up four runs, two of which were earned. He struck out eight and walked only one before giving way to McClintock who tossed one inning of scoreless relief, allowing two hits and striking out one.
Camp suffered his first loss of the 2015 campaign as he drops to a 3-1 record on the year. He gave up nine hits and six runs, four of which were earned, while striking out six and walking four in 5.2 innings of work.
Sophomore Mike DeLee (Dorchester, S.C.) was outstanding in his relief effort, going three and a third innings of scoreless relief while allowing on a single hit, striking out seven and walking two.
The second game of the double header turned into a pitching duel that only lasted a hour and 45 minutes, a blink of the eye compared to the almost the three hour first contest.
Cromer and Catawba starter Shaefer Shepard traded 1-2-3 innings in the first and Cromer did it again in the top half of the second. But Sneed and Sheridan recorded back-to-back singles and Ty Powell (Charleston, S.C.) later added another to load up the bases with only one out in the home half.
Martinez ripped a line drive right at the shortstop but he missed the catch and let it roll far enough away that all runners advanced on the play and Newberry had their first lead of the weekend against the Indians.
Shepard came back and recorded two straight outs to end the threat and keep the score 1-0 in favor of the Wolves.
Cromer did not allow a runner until a leadoff single in the top of the fourth inning when Catawba posted back-to-back singles, but the senior righty rolled a 6-3 double play and then induced a groundout to first to deny the Indians and keep the 1-0 lead.
After the second inning Newberry did not advance a runner past second base and their only other scoring opportunity came in the fifth as Bradley laced a two-out double down the left field line and after an intentional walk to Baur, men were on first and second with two outs.
Shepard picked up another strikeout to end the threat and then had his third 1-2-3 inning of the game in the sixth.
After the fourth Cromer faced four batters in the fifth and sixth before going 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh with a pair of strikeouts to nail down the win for the Wolves and pick up his second complete game of the season and the second shutout of his career.
The North Augusta native went seven complete innings, scattering four hits and striking out seven Indians without giving up a walk. He only needed 86 pitches to complete the game and threw 63 for strikes which equates to 73% strikes for the outing.
The last shutout for the Wolves actually came from Cromer as well in 2014 when he went seven complete while scattering eight hits, striking out five and walking two in a 6-0 win against Brevard.
Shepard went all six for the Indians, surrendering five hits, an unearned run and striking out nine. Shepard drops to 3-1 on the year while Cromer improves to 2-2.
“I thought our guys battled in game one,” head coach Russell Triplett said. “[Wesley] Camp didn’t have his best stuff today but we battled against [Craig] Brooks and he’s as good a pitcher as there is and as good as we will face. But Mike DeLee came in and was lights out, giving us a chance to win in game one even though they [Catawba] jumped out to a big lead early.”
“[Cole] Cromer was outstanding all the way around in game two,” Triplett stated. “That is the Cole Cromer we are used to seeing and he matched up and really threw the ball extremely well.”
The Wolves will return to action on Tuesday, March 3, when they travel to Greenwood for a non-conference game with the Lander Bearcats at 6 p.m. Their next South Atlantic Conference game will not be until March 13-14 when they travel to Brevard for a three game set.