Red Hawk baseball claims Region 10 tournament championship
The Catawba Valley Community College baseball team’s run at the Region 10 tournament came to a magical conclusion on Sunday night with a 6-2 win in the tournament final against Cleveland Community College.
The Red Hawks, who improve to 36-24 overall, win their first Region tournament championship since 2015.
“We came down to Morehead City to take it one game at a time and good Lord willing things worked out,” said Catawba Valley head baseball coach Marshall McDonald. “These guys battled their tails off — coming from behind in three of their four games. They’ve had so much adversity this year, and it was awesome to see them dog pile. We are looking forward to next weekend and trying to get back to Enid.”
Catawba Valley’s magical run started on Thursday with a 4-3 first-round win against Bryant & Stratton.
The Red Hawks trailed 3-0 in the contest to the Bobcats, but worked their way back to eventually win on a ninth-inning walk-off RBI single by Jean Carlos Diaz.
Waiting for CVCC in Friday’s second round was an extremely tough test in 13th-ranked Pitt — the second seed in the East Division.
Battling back and forth in the game’s final innings, CVCC scored two runs in the ninth — both coming on a single by Zack Summerville — to walk off for the second straight game and knock off the Bulldogs, 9-8.
McDonald said the walk-off hits by Diaz and Summerville were key moments during the Red Hawks’ Region championship run, and it helped them build momentum and confidence with each and every clutch win.
“There was just a feeling of being one game closer,” McDonald said. “We told them all year we are playing for ‘four games in May.’ It was good to see them play it out.”
After another thrilling 9-8 win in game three — this time against defending champion Patrick & Henry — the Red Hawks put themselves one win away from a Region championship.
Standing in the way of that goal, though, was a Cleveland team who had run-ruled both Patrick & Henry and top East seed Brunswick in consolation action to make it to the final.
Despite the challenge they faced in the Yetis, McDonald and his players remained positive.
“We were confident,” he said. “Our guys were locked in, and you could tell it. They had no doubt in their minds we were gonna lose that game. There was kind of a quiet, relaxed confidence.”
That belief showed early and quickly with the Red Hawks jumping ahead 3-0 in the first inning behind a pair of sacrifice flys from Summerville and Walker Waters and a Yeti error.
Cleveland cut into its deficit, scoring a pair of runs, but Catawba Valley’s Cole Cunningham added a two-run single and Masashi Takegama added an RBI single — pushing the Red Hawks to their first Region tournament title in seven seasons.
McDonald was overcome with emotion following the win and seeing his players pile onto the field at Big Rock Stadium.
“It was awesome and emotional at the same time,” said McDonald, who played at CVCC during its inaugural season in 2010. “Take no credit away from (former head coach) Paul Rozzelle because he started this thing, but it was great to see this group enjoy that moment.”
The Red Hawks now host Region 8 champion Florida State Jacksonville in a best-of-three series for the right to be crowned South Atlantic District champion and make a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series in Enid, Okla.
Games are set for Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m. at Henkel-Alley Field at the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds.
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