THOMASVILLE, N.C. - Joe Koehler drove in two runs, but a walk-off home run in the ninth inning sealed the fate as the No. 24 University of Mount Olive fell to Catawba College 7-6 in the winner's bracket game in the 2015 NCAA DII Southeast Regional Baseball Tournament in Thomasville, N.C.
Mount Olive (39-15) started hot right out of the gate as Zak Orrison singled to lead-off the game. Kilgore Gailmard continued the trend as he singled past the shortstop. Jason Morozowski drew a walk and loaded the bases. Justin Manning drove in the first run of the game as Orrison slid in safely at the plate on the groundout.
Joe Koehler did not let up and he drilled a pitch into the right field corner for a two RBI-double and the Trojans took a 3-0 lead. Brett Lang wasted no time after a pitching change as he drove a first pitch into center for and RBI. Catawba (43-13) managed to stop the Trojan rally as the final two outs were recorded and Mount Olive held a 4-0 lead.
Catawba in the bottom half also was able to get their offense going. Blake Houston was able to reach first on an error. Houston was moved to third after back-to-back singles by Austin Stilley and Will Albertson. T.J. Wharton drove in the Indians first run with a single through the left side. Dylan Richardson plated another run as he reached on a fielder's choice and Stilley scored. Two runs was all Catawba plated as Kodi Whitley got the final two outs.
Chance Bowden for Catawba reached on a fielder's choice after a lead-off single from Craig Brooks. Kyle Smith singled to right and moved Bowden to second. With two away Houston singled home a run as Bowden scored from second. Stilley was walked to load the bases, but a ground out ended the Indians' fourth and Mount Olive led 4-3.
Mount Olive made some noise in the top half of the fifth. After a Tyler Farmer got on via the hit by pitch, Orrison moved him the second on a bunt hat was mishandled by the pitcher. Manning drew a walk to put a Trojan on ever bag, however the next three batters for Mount Olive were unable to get a timely hit and the rally was extinguished.
Catawba tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Richardson singled to left with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Bowden reached first after strike three was dropped and the Trojan catcher could not handle the exchange and runners were on the corners with two away. Smith tied the game with an RBI-single into left. Bowden on the play was tagged out trying to reach third and the fifth came to a close.
Farmer again got the Mount Olive offense started in the seventh with a double to right field. Orrison laid down another bunt to move Farmer to third. Gailmard drew a walk to put runners at the corners with one away. Morozowski came up and broke the tie with a chopper to third. Gailmard was eliminated at second but an errant throw flew into dead ball territory and Morozowski was awarded second. A strikeout ended the top of the seventh, but the Trojans regained the lead 5-4.
The back and forth game continued as Catawba responded in the bottom half. Richardson drew a two out walk and stole second. Craig Brooks drove Richardson home as he found open grass in left field and the throw to the plate was not in time and the game was knotted up at five.
The Trojans came roaring back in the ninth as Shipman drew a lead-off walk. Grant Tyndall came in to run and was eliminated on a bunt by Farmer. Orrison used a sacrifice bunt to move Farmer to second with two outs. Gailmard got a hold of a pitch and drove it to deep left center and the ball kicked off the wall after a jumping attempt by the Indians left fielder and Farmer came home to score the go ahead run 6-5.
Catawba came back in the bottom of the ninth as Stilley doubled to lead-off the inning. Albertson hit a deep fly ball to left field and walked off as the ball landed beyond the wall and the Indians took the game by a final 7-5.
The Trojans have a quick turnaround as they will play again tonight at 7 p.m. against the loser of the North Georgia/Wingate game.