HICKORY, N.C. — Despite a dominating performance from starting pitcher Trae Starnes, the 20th-ranked Catawba Valley Community College baseball team fell victim to a late game home run in a 3-1 loss to conference foe Southeastern on Sunday afternoon at Henkel-Alley Field.
With the defeat, the Red Hawks fall to 24-15 overall and 10-7 in Region X games.
A left-hander sophomore from Taylorsville, N.C., Starnes had one of the best outings of his CVCC career on Sunday.
In his seven-inning performance, Starnes allowed just three hits, two walks and struck out 14 batters — the second-straight day that a Red Hawks starting pitcher tied the program mark for strikeouts in a single game (Blake Dockery struck out 14 batters for the second time this season during the first game of the three-game set on Saturday).
Despite Starnes' stout performance on the mound, Catawba Valley batters struggled to give him a lead, stranding 12 total base runners in Sunday's series finale.
Even with that adversity, the Red Hawks would be the first team to break through offensively, scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning when center fielder Rod Munoz reached base on an error, allowing third baseman Grant Tilley, who had drawn a walk earlier in the frame, to score.
Starnes exited with the lead following the seventh inning, and the Rams fought back in the eighth inning against Red Hawk reliever Timothy Davila.
Southeastern would get its first two batters on base in the eighth inning when left fielder Ted McNeill drew a walk and shortstop A.J. Brooks was hit by a pitch.
During the next at bat, a ground ball by first baseman Gage Hammonds led to a double play, putting CVCC in position to get out of the inning unscathed.
However, the fourth Rams batter of the inning — catcher Riley Cameron — was intentionally walked, setting the stage for the go-ahead three-run home run by Rams right fielder Trent McKay to deep left center field.
CVCC would attempt to answer back from its two-run deficit, but could only get two runners on base during the final two innings — both coming in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Catawba Valley Community College baseball team attempts to bounce back on Wednesday when it returns to action at home doubleheader against USC Lancaster. First pitch between the Red Hawks and Lancers is set for 5 p.m.