Henderson, Tenn. -- Coming into the 2016 season, head coach Luther Bramblett needed just three wins to reach the milestone of 500 career victories at St. Catharine.
After going 2-2 at Mobile (Ala.) to open the season, Bramblett reached the milestone in the Patriots seventh game of the season against No. 18 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) on Friday night in Henderson, Tennessee.
Bramblett, who came to St. Catharine in 2002 when the Patriots were a junior college, amassed 258 wins while they participated in the NJCAA. But in 2008-09, St. Catharine joined the NAIA where Bramblett earned 242 more wins to reach 500 in his 15th season as the Patriots skipper.
The series was originally supposed to be a four-game set, but Mother Nature had other plans and forced the teams to play a single nine-inning game on Thursday and a doubleheader on Friday.
In the opener of the series the Patriot offense could only muster up five hits as the Lions (5-2) walked away with the 3-0 win. The Lions scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to take the series opener.
Senior right-hander, Daniel Lerma (Oxnard, Calif.) started the game and gave the Patriots six strong innings. Lerma allowed one unearned run on four hits while fanning eight. Austin Willis-Greene (Manhattan, N.Y.) allowed two hits and a pair of unearned runs in his two innings of work.
Josh Wenning (Palmyra, Ind.) led the Patriots at the plate with two of his team’s five hits. Hector Quinones (Barceloneta, P.R.), Evan Smith (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Reid Battles (Denton, Texas) each recorded one hit in the loss.
The second game of the series would prove to be a pitcher’s duel that would need extra innings to be decided. After the game was tied at 2-2 after seven innings, the Lions scored on a walk-off single in the eighth to win game one of the doubleheader 3-2.
St. Catharine starter, Joan Pena (New York, N.Y.) allowed two runs on two hits in the first inning, but from that point on, he was lights out. Pena didn’t allow another hit as he struck out seven in seven innings of work. Jake McCoy (Mesa, Ariz.) was tagged with the loss allowing one run on one hit in the eighth inning.
It took the Patriots six innings before they finally cracked the scoreboard with two runs on three hits in the sixth. After back-to-back groundouts opened the inning, Alfredo Bohorquez (Maracaibo, Venezuela) started the rally with a two-out double. Quinones followed suit with a single scoring Bohorquez from second.
Nicco Lollio (Brownstown, Mich.) kept the rally alive with double to left-center scoring Quinones from first. It looked as though the Patriots would take the lead, but a groundout ended the rally with the game tied at 2-2.
Seven innings wasn’t enough as the game moved to the eighth inning tied at two apiece. St. Catharine didn’t score in the top-half of the inning, but the Lions pushed the winning run across in the bottom of the eighth to win the game 3-2.
Contrary to the first two games of the series that saw the two teams combine to score just eight runs, the third game was an offensive explosion. In the series finale, the teams combined to score 15 runs on 19 hits as the Patriots were able to hang on for the 8-7 win.
The Patriots got the scoring started in the second inning where they scored four runs on two hits as they took advantage of a pair of miscues by the Lions. The big blow came off the bat of Quinones when the cleared the bases loaded with a double to deep left. Evan Smith also tallied an RBI-single in the inning.
The Bat Pats were back at it in the third inning when they put up a three spot on five hits. Smith got it going with another RBI-single, and then three batters later, Bohorquez singled scoring Smith and Reid Battles.
The Lions answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but the Patriots responded with a run of their on the top of the fourth pushing the lead to 8-2 after four complete. From that point on the Lions began to chip away at the lead.
Freed-Hardeman scored two runs in the fifth cutting the deficit to 8-4 with two innings remaining. The Lions made one last rally in the seventh when they scored three runs, but Drew Kissel (Jeffersonville, Ind.) ended the game when he caught a runner attempting to steal second.
Sophomore starter Marvin Galarza (Arecibo, PR) got the win for the Patriots allowing four runs – two earned – on three hits in five innings of work. Jake McCoy picked up the save when he entered with two out in the seventh.
Evan Smith led the way at the plate going 3-for-4 with two RBI’s and two runs scored. Quinones tallied a pair of doubles and three RBI’s, while Bohorquez and Kissel finished with two hits. Bohorquez posted two RBI’s, while Kissel finished with one run batted in.UP NEXT: St. Catharine is back in action this weekend when they take on Calumet College of St. Joseph in their home opener on Friday, February 19th, for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. ET at Edelen-Haydon Field.