May 28, 2004

Final Stats

Charleston, S.C. - Sophomore right-hander Jeremy Ellenburg pitched a career-high 6.2 innings in his first career start to lead eighth-seeded Western Carolina to its third upset in three days, defeating third-seed Citadel, 5-2, on the Bulldogs home field, Riley Park. The Catamounts (28-29) now advance to the championship game of the 2004 Southern Conference Tournament, defeating top-seed College of Charleston in round one and fourth-seed Elon in round two.

The loss was the first of the year by the Bulldogs (35-26) to a SoCon team at Riley Park. With the win, Western becomes just the second eight seed to reach the SoCon final without a loss, joining the 1993 VMI team.

Ellenburg, a walkon who was Western's hottest pitcher in the middle of the season, had cooled off of late. However, the Forest City, N.C, native scattered eight hits over his 6.2 innings, improving to 4-2 on the year. In addition to two runs, Ellenburg allowed two walks and struck out three. Brian McCullen pitched the final 2.1 innings to earn his second save of the year.

WCU celebrates after defeating The Citadel to reach the SoCon Championship game.

Western jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. With two outs, Jared Greenwood singled up the middle and Brian Sigmon followed with a single through the left side. Denver Edick brought home Greenwood with a bounding single over the third baseman's head, moving Sigmon to third. Mike McGowan then plated Sigmon with a single to left field.

The Catamounts padded their advantage with a run in the second to make the score 3-0. Brandon Zollman had a one-out bunt single and Todd Roper reached on an error. After a strikeout, Citadel starting pitcher Griff Beckhman walked Greenwood to load the bases and then walked Sigmon to bring home Zollman for what proved to be the game winner. Beckham escaped further damage by getting an inning-ending ground out.

The Citadel got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth, scoring one run on two hits to make the score 3-1. With one out, Chip Cannon doubled to right and scored on batter later on a Jon Aughey single to left.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ellenburg got two quick outs. However, The Bulldogs' Matt Covington doubled and scored on a single to center by Chris Ard. Josh Stackley followed with a single to left, putting runners on second and third and chasing Ellenburg. McCullen came out of the bullpen and got a pop out to keep the score at 3-2.

In the eighth, McCullen allowed consecutive one-out hits, but rallied to strike out the next two batters he faced to escape.

After being shutout by Bulldog relief pitcher Ryan Owens for 6.1 innings, Western put two runs on the board in the top of the ninth to give the Cats a 5-2 lead. With one out, Roper singled to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Chris Davis, who was 0-for-his first 13 at bats in the tournament, doubled to right field to score Roper. Davis moved up to third on a Greenwood ground out and scored on an RBI infield single by Sigmon.

In the bottom of the ninth, McCullen allowed a leadoff single, but got a strike out and started a game-ending double play.

For the Cats offensively, Roper, Greenwood, Sigmon and Edick each had two hits with Sigmon driving in two of Western's five runs. For the Bulldogs, Covington had three hits with Ard adding two. Beckham suffered the loss, falling to 3-5. He allowed five hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks with a strike out. Owens entered the game with just 13.1 innings pitched, 11 walks and 11 strike outs on the season. However, the left-hander worked 7.0 innings, allowing six hits and two runs with one walk and eight K's.

Western Carolina will face play in the championship game Saturday night at 7 pm. If the Cats lose, they will turn around and play a second championship game at 2 pm on Sunday.