SALISBURY, NC - A six run seventh inning, highlighted by three home runs, gave the Belmont Abbey Crusaders just enough cushion for a 24-22 win over Catawba at Newman Park. The win for the Abbey moves their overall record to 28-7-1, while Catawba falls to 24-12. The win also earns a sweep over Catawba for the regular season, as the Abbey defeated the Indians by a 9-4 score on March, 2 at Abbey Yard.
The contest featured four lead changes, eight separate times at bat producing three plus runs, 44 hits, 22 extra base hits and 11 eleven home runs. Twelve players from both clubs had multi-hit games.
The fireworks began for the Abbey in the second, as Levi Wright clubbed his first homer of the year, a two run shot plating Thomas Yoder. Nick Nunziato would replicate the feat, slugging a two run homer that brought home Colin Rosenbaum. The homers gave the Abbey a 7-4 lead.
The Abbey would stretch the lead in the third, as Colin Rosenbaum would hit a literal three run wall scraper to center, stretching the Abbey lead to five runs.
With Belmont Abbey leading 12-7 in the fourth, Catawba would put on their own light show, as Dylan Richardson hit a two run blast to highlight a nine run inning. When the fourth came to a close, the Indians owned a 16-12 lead.
The Abbey would climb right back into the contest, plating four unearned runs to even the slugfest at 16-16. Nick Beinlich and Thomas Yoder would each drive in a pair of runs in the frame, as Beinlich tripled to right for his second hit of the ballgame.
A pair of runs for Catawba in the fifth, followed by a single run in the sixth would give Catawba a 19-17 lead, as Ryan Craig pitched the Crusaders out of further trouble to send the Abbey to the seventh looking for another rally.
The game would turn the Abbey's way in the seventh, as nine men batted, scoring six times.
In the eventful frame, Thomas Yoder got into a Catawba offering just enough to pick up his first homer of the year. The two run dinger was followed by a solo shot from Matt McGarry, his first, which went just over the wall in center to give the Abbey the lead for good.
Weston Clarke logged on in the seventh with his sixth home run of the season to give the Abbey a 23-19 lead.
Ryan Craig would pitch the Abbey through the seventh and into the eighth before handing the ball to Weston Clarke in a critical situation.
Clarke would face Zach Almond with the potential tying run on base and two down. Clarke would strike out Almond to spoil the threat and keep the Abbey lead at 23-21. On the night, Clarke would face five hitters, striking out four.
Nunziato would lead off the ninth with his 14th tater of the season to give the Abbey their final margin.
In the bottom of the ninth, Will Albertson homered for the second time of the night to trim the lead to 24-22.
Clarke would strike out Chance Bowden to end the game, but the out could not be completed, as the ball would get to the backstop, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.
Kyle Halbohn would be summoned to the hill to close out the game and the reigning Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week would strike out Almond to earn the save in the nearly four and a half hour marathon.
Ryan Craig would earn the win for the Abbey, as Yoder and Rosenbaum would each have four hits. Yoder would pick up a season high six RBI.
The Crusaders now sit a season high 21 games over .500, as they welcome Barton College to Abbey Yard for a three game set beginning at 6pm Friday. Follow the action on BASN: www.basn.wgnc.net.