April 30, 2004
Burlington, N.C. - WCU freshman Dustin Penland, who pinch hit with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, drove in the game winner, while junior pitcher Derrick Hawk struck out eight in 2.2 innings as the Catamounts won an 8-6 see-saw battle at Elon Friday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium. Western Carolina improves to 19-24, 8-14 SoCon, while Elon falls to 21-24, 11-11.
In the ninth and the game tied at 6-6, Brian Sigmon and Jared Greenwood walked to start the frame. After a sacrifice bunt by Denver Edick put runners on second and third, Mike McGowan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Penland, pinch hitting for Clint Ramsey, lined a ball past the Phoenix third baseball, which was ruled a two-base error. However, Penland got credit for one RBI as both Sigmon and Greenwood scored on the play.
In the bottom of the ninth, Hawk got a strikeout and a line out before allowing a single. However, Hawk rebounded to strikeout Tyler Stevens to pick up the win. Overall, Hawk (2-4) established a career high, fanning eight of the 11 batters he faced. Also, WCU starting pitcher Caleb McConnell established a career high by striking out eight as well. Both WCU pitchers combined to strikeout 16, a season-high by the Cats, and did not walk a Phoenix batter.
Western jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Todd Roper started the game with a single to right-center field. He moved to second on a throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt, then moved to third on a Wayne Kilmer fly out. Two batters later, Sigmon ripped a double to right-center, driving in Roper on the play.
Elon answered with two runs in the bottom of the first. Gary Morris had a leadoff double and moved to third on a bunt single by Evan Tartaglia. Chris Price followed with a sacrifice fly ot right field, scoring Morris on the play. After Tartaglia stole second, he scored on an RBI single to right by Grant Rembert.
The Catamounts regained the lead, scoring three runs in the top of the second. McGowan walked on four pitches and moved to second when Ramsey was hit by a pitch. Despite being down in the count 0-2, Brandon Zollman worked the count full then delivered an RBI single down the left field line. Kilmer loaded the bases, reaching on an error by the shortstop. Chris Davis brought home Ramsey with a sacrifice fly to center and Sigmon drove in his second run of the game with an RBI single to left, scoring Zollman.
In the bottom of the second, the Phoenix trimmed their deficit to one (4-3). With two outs, the number nine hitter Paul Bennett doubled of the left field wall and scored one batter later on Morris' RBI single up the middle.
After both teams were held scoreless four innings (third through the sixth), Western padded its advantage with two runs in the top of the seventh inning, making the score 6-3. With two outs, Jared Greenwood lifted a pitch over the left field wall for his SoCon-leading 17th home run of the season. Edick followed with a bloop single to center , moved to third on a single through the right side by McGowan and scored on an RBI single to right-center by Ramsey.
As they had all night, when WCU scored Elon answered, scoring three runs and tying the score at 6-6. After a strikeout, Morris was hit by a pitch and Tartaglia followed with a single. Price then chased McConnell with a two-run triple to left-center. Hawk came in and pitched well, getting three strike outs in the inning. However, Price would tie the game on one of the strikeouts due to a passed ball on strike three, allowing Rembert to reach.
For the Catamounts, Roper, Sigmon, Ramsey and Zollman each had two hits, while Sigmon led the way with two RBI.
Elon starting pitcher Lance Cole only lasted 2.2 innings, allowing six hits, four runs and three walks. Justin Weeks, who had an ERA near 17.00 entering the game, came in with two out in the third and retired nine Catamounts in a row. However, after giving up the home run to Greenwood, he struggled. Overall, Weeks allowed five hits and two runs with three strikeouts in 4.1 innings. From there, Chad Tilley got the only batter he faced out and Chris DeFago retired the only two batters he faced. New Elon pitcher Mike Fratoe walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth and suffered the loss, falling to 1-3. Offensively, Morris, Tartaglia and Rembert each had two hits, while Price drove in a game-high three,
Western Carolina and Elon will play game two of their three-game series on Saturday at 1:30 pm on Elon's campus.