March 10, 2004
Atlanta, Ga. - After letting an early lead slip away yesterday, Western Carolina scored five runs in the second and never relinquished the advantage, defeating 17th-ranked Georgia Tech 9-5 Wednesday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Catamounts (8-7) were led by junior left fielder Chad McKown, who was 2-for-3 with three RBI.
Western Carolina jumped out to an early lead, scoring five runs in the top of the second. However, the Cats could have tacked on a few more runs in the frame. Jared Greenwood and Alex Gary walked, then scored one what was ruled a single by McKown. McKown's ball actually left the park, but he passed Gary on the basepaths, resulting in an out and scoring Greenwood and Gary. Mike McGowan walked, Brian Sigmon was hit by a pitch and Matt Nelson walked to load the bases and chase Tech starting pitcher Jason Neighborgall. New pitcher Lee Hyde came in a hit Todd Roper, plating McGowan. Denver Edick followed with an RBI single through the left side, but Roper was thrown out at second to end the scoring.
The Yellow Jackets (9-6) answered with three runs in the bottom of the second to make the score 5-3. Micah Owings had a leadoff single and Tyler Greene followed with a double to left. Steven Blackwood brought home the two with a double to center and scored on a single Jake Hall. After WCU starter Matt Teague struck out Eric Patterson, Brandon Nash came out of the Catamount bullpen and got Wes Hodges to hit into a third-to-first-to-third double play and end the inning.
In the fourth the Cats made its 7-3. Matt Nelson had one-out infield single and scored two batters later on a double by Chris Davis down the left field line. Davis moved to third on his double when the Jackets tried to throw out Nelson at home and scored on a infield single by Edick.
Western padded its advantage with one run in the seventh, making the score 8-3. With one out, Edick was hit by a pitch, Greenwood doubled and Gary was intentionally walked to load the bases. McKown blooped a single over the first baseman's head to score Edick and keep the bases loaded. However, Tech relief pitcher Ryan Self came in to the game and got McGowan to hit into an inning-ending double play.
In the home half of the seventh, when Hodges grounded to second for the second out of the inning, WCU's Roper set the school record for assists, now with 533. He broke the record previously held by WCU All-American Grant Brittain, who had 531 form 1987-90.
In the eighth, Roper did the job at the plate as well. After a one-out double by Nelson, Roper lined a single down the right field line to drive in Nelson and make the score 9-3. In the bottom of the eighth, new WCU pitcher Derrick Hawk got into trouble, loading the bases with no outs thanks to a single and consecutive walks. However, Hawk struck out Greene looking, got Blackwood to hit a sacrifice fly (making the score 9-4) and got Whit Robbins to line out to right to escape with just one run scored by the Jackets.
Tech started the ninth with consecutive singles to center by Patterson and Hodges. Brandon Boggs made the score 9-5 with a bloop single over the third baseman's head and put runners on first and second. Once again Hawk came through in the clutch, getting Mike Nikeas to strike out looking and getting Clifton Remole to ground out into a game-ending double play.
For the Cats, Nash (1-0) was credited with the win, pitching 2.2 innings and allowing just one hit. Clint Ramsey and Eryk McConnell pitched the fifth through seventh innings. Ramsey allowed just one hit. McConnell also allowed one hit in 2.0 innings, getting strike out to end the sixth and seventh innings.
Offensively, Roper, Davis and Edick each had two RBI with Edick and Nelson joining McKown with two hits in the game.
For Georgia Tech, Neighborgall (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing one hit, five runs and four walks in 1.1 innings pitched. Patterson, Hodges and Blackwood each had two hits with Blackwood accounting for four of the team's five runs with three RBI and a run scored.
Western Carolina will host the College of Charleston this weekend (Mar. 12-14) in a three-game set. The teams will start at 3 pm on Friday with games starting at 2 pm and 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.