TIGERVILLE, S.C. -- Bryce Butler beat out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the 14th to plate the winning run and send the Catawba Indians to the 2019 NCAA II National Finals with a 4-3 victory over North Greenville on Saturday afternoon at Ashmore Park. The Catawba Indians swept the best two-of-three Southeast Super Regional from the second-ranked Crusaders, who end their season at 45-11. Catawba, ranked 11th, moves to 47-12 and equals the school record for wins in a season.
Jackson Raper opened the bottom of the 14th with a walk and Cameron Morrison laced an 0-2 pitch down the right field line to put runners on the corners with no outs. North Greenville went with five infielders to try and negate the winning run and Kipp Rawlings recovered to strikeout the next two batters. Bulter chopped a 0-1 pitch to second and dove into first to beat the throw that plated Raper.
For the second straight day, Riley Myers (9-0) earned the win. He threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with no walks and four strikeouts. That followed an excellent five and two-thirds inning stint from Sawyer Strickland, who did not allow a run and just a pair of hits with six strikeouts. Caleb Link got the Indians out of the 10th on a diving catch by Butler with two runners on.
As he did on Friday, John Michael Faile put the Crusaders on top in the first inning with a two-out solo home run. North Greenville increased its lead to 3-0 in the fourth as the first four batters had hits. Utah Jones doubled and Faile singled. Adam Sasser singled home a run and a hit from Jeffrey Chandler loaded the bases. Hunter
Shepherd limited the damage as he allowed a sacrifice fly to Jared Williams that turned into a double play when Chandler was tagged out at second trying to move up. Shepherd ended the frame and his day on the mound with a strikeout.
Catawba stuck for three runs in its half of the fourth to tie the game. Jacob Nester doubled with one out and came around to score when Butler reached on an error. Heath Mitchem singled in front of a fly out by Jeremy Simpson then Shepherd and Joe Butts delivered two out RBI singles to pull the Indians even. The game stayed scoreless until Catawba won it in the 14th.
Shepherd had another solid day at the plate with three hits and a walk in seven trips to the dish. Mitchem also had three hits, while Morrison and Nester each had two. The Crusaders had nine hits, two each from Jones, Faile, Chandler and Williams.
The Indians had the better scoring chances after the fourth. NGU got a runner to third with two outs in the ninth then got Butler's catch to end the 10th with two on. The Crusaders had only two base-runners off Myers. Jones led off the 13th with a single, but Myers got two strikeouts and a fly out. In the 14th, Sean Parsons reached on a two-out error before Myers' final strikeout.
Catawba was silent after its fourth inning outburst until the ninth. A lead off single from Mitchem and a one-hit by Shepherd gave the Indians a pair of runners, but two groundouts ended the threat. Lee Poteat singled and stole second with one out in the 11th before the frame ended on a pair of strikeouts. With one out in the 13th, Butler walked and Mitchem singled. Both runners moved up on a groundout and Shepherd was intentionally walked to load the bases. A fly out ended the inning.
Rollings (5-2) took the loss for the second straight day. He gave up a run on two hits with a pair of strikeouts in an inning and third. Tucker Burgess started and went nine innings. He allowed nine hits with a pair walks and two strikeouts. Only one of three runs he allowed was earned. Daniel Kight tossed three and third innings of scoreless relief on three hits.
Catawba will open play in Cary on either Saturday, June 1, or Sunday, June 2, depending on the brackets, which will be released on Sunday. The National Finals will continue through June 8.