Red Hawks sweep Lancers, win streak reaches nine

Red Hawks sweep Lancers, win streak reaches nine

HICKORY, N.C. — The 17th-ranked Catawba Valley Community College baseball team extended its winning streak to nine games on Sunday with a conference doubleheader sweep against visiting Lenoir Community College at Henkel-Alley Field.

The Red Hawks (27-9, 10-3 in Region X) earned an 10-0 six-inning run-rule victory in game one against the Lancers (18-8, 6-7 in Region X) before capturing game two 11-3 in seven innings.

Game one: No. 17 Catawba Valley 10, Lenoir 0

Behind a dominant pitching performance from Julian Smith and a pair of three-RBI performances at the plate from David Graves and Cory Watt, the Red Hawks earned a run-rule shutout in Sunday's opener in the twin bill.

Smith continued his terrific sophomore campaign on Sunday, allowing just one hit, one walk and striking out 11 batters to earn his sixth victory of the season.

Catawba Valley's bats backed up Smith's effort with Graves, Watt and Garrison Burress all connecting on home runs during the contest.

The Red Hawks gained a 2-0 lead after a balk in the second inning scored Graham Mitchell, who also drove in a run on a sac fly in the bottom of the third inning.

Graves' two-run blast to left field in the bottom of the third inning made it a 4-0 lead for Catawba Valley.

Watt followed suit with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning, and two batters later, Burress connected on a two-run home run to make it a 9-0 lead for CVCC.

Graves capped off three-hit day with an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring Watt to end the game via the run rule.

Game two: No. 17 Catawba Valley 11, Lenoir 3

Graham Mitchell homered twice and Cody Payne drove in five runs, helping the Red Hawks complete the sweep against the Lancers on Sunday.

Catawba Valley pulled ahead 3-0 early in the contest by scoring one run in each of the first three innings, including an RBI single by Payne in the bottom of the second and a solo home run to left field by Mitchell in the bottom of the third inning.

The Lancers rallied to pull within 3-2 of the Red Hawks with a two-run double by Michael Bunchino in the top of the fourth inning.

CVCC second baseman Jimmy Marcelli responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI single, and he scored later in the inning on a single by Kyran Russ.

Coy Barnett's solo home run in the top of the fifth inning pulled Lenoir within 5-3 through five complete innings.

However, the Red Hawks closed out their victory with six late insurances runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, including a two-run home run by Mitchell and a grand slam from Cody Payne.

Sophomore pitcher Harry Hatcher picked up his fifth win of the season on the mound for CVCC. In five innings of work, Hatcher allowed five hits, three runs (one earned), one walk and struck out four batters.

Nic Messina and Kevin Finzer pitched in relief of Hatcher, tossing one inning each. The duo combined to give up just one hit and strike out three batters to help seal Catawba Valley's 27th win of 2018.

The CVCC baseball team returns to action on Wednesday with a home doubleheader against USC Salkehatchie at Henkel-Alley Field. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.