Birmingham, Ala. – Samuel Strickland scattered three hits over six scoreless innings in the start and first-place Samford scored in bunches in claiming the Southern Conference series opener over Western Carolina, 16-4, on a rainy Friday evening at Joe Lee Griffin Field.
Samford (35-14, 15-4 SoCon) jumped out to an 11-run lead using a three-run third that featured a 30-minute rain delay and a decisive six-run sixth inning before the Catamounts managed to light the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. The Bulldogs responded with another crooked number with a five-run home half after the stretch, eventually cruising to the 12-run victory by taking advantage of five Catamount errors in relegating WCU to its sixth-straight loss.
Game two of the three-game series has been bumped up to a 10:30 am CT / 11:30 am ET first pitch in an effort to avoid inclement weather on Saturday morning. The game is slated to be broadcast on ESPN+ (subscription required) with live streaming audio from the Catamount Sports Network as well as live stats links available online at CatamountSports.com.
A left-handed sophomore starter for the Bulldogs, Strickland (7-2) matched a season-high with eight strikeouts over six solid innings in earning his seventh victory of the season. At one point, the southpaw retired 11-consecutive Catamount hitters, limiting the potent WCU offense to a trio of singles in three different innings.
Freshman Jalen Jones led the Catamounts with a two-hit performance, adding a walk to reach base a team-best three times. The McDonough, Ga., native posted one of WCU’s two RBIs on a seventh-inning single. Sophomore Will Prater plated Jones on a ninth-inning triple, halting a five-game hitless skid with the drive to straight-away center field, scoring on the same play on an error on the relay back to the infield.
Also adding base hits for the Catamounts on Friday night were redshirt senior Matthew Koehler (1-for-4) and junior Luke Robinson (1-for-2), who extended his active streak to nine-consecutive games with a base knock while also reaching on a walk. Redshirt junior Andrew Bullock doubled and scored in the seventh, finishing 1-for-4. Colin Bertsch with a double and Justin Sparks with a single both delivered pinch hits.
Catamount starter Taylor Purus (3-4) was saddled with the loss after being charged with 11 runs – only eight of which were earned – on eight hits over 5.1 innings of work. The Hudson, N.C., native struck out four against three walks. Freshman Davis Tyndall recorded two strikeouts in his two-thirds of an inning while classmate Eric Wallington also tallied two outs in relief. RHP Ryan Mitschele pitched an inning and a third with a walk and a strikeout of hitless, scoreless relief.
For the Bulldogs, lead-off hitter Brandon Fryman finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a pair of RBI while Jordan Fucci plated five in a 3-for-5 effort including a seventh-inning grand slam home run. All told, Samford’s 10 hits were spread between six different hitters.