Greenville, N.C. – Luke Robinson belted his team-leading fourth home run of the season as both he and Andrew Bullock collected two hits apiece on Friday, but it was not enough as Wright State held the potent Catamount offense in check in handing Western Carolina a 5-3 loss in game one of the 16th-annual Keith LeClair Classic at ECU’s Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Trailing by four, 5-1, Robinson pulled a two-out, two-run homer to right field to cut the Catamount deficit in half, 5-3, in the bottom of the eighth inning. But it was as close as WCU would get, retired in order in the ninth in the loss.
Aside from the two hits by Robinson and Bullock – three of which were singles – redshirt senior Matthew Koehler recorded the only other Catamount base hit over the nine-inning affair, legging out his second double of the year in the second inning. Robinson reached for the eighth-straight game this season, extending his active streak of reaching safely to 20-consecutive games dating back to last year.
After surrendering a run in the top of the second inning, the Catamounts managed to knot the game in the bottom of the frame as Bullock drew a one-out walk before landing at third following Koehler’s two-base hit. Sophomore Will Prater then lifted a sacrifice fly deep enough into left to allow Bullock to rumble home, tying the game at one.
A single and a costly error resulted in a run in the top of the third as Wright State reclaimed a lead it would never relinquish, tacking on a three-run home run by Peyton Burdick in the top of the sixth to push the lead out to 5-1. WCU had a chance to trim the margin back down in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-out spurt. Robinson singled before Justin Sparks reached on an HBP. Bullock then singled to the first base side, but Robinson was waved around third and was nailed at the plate for the third out ending the threat.
Sophomore Zach Franklin (1-1) suffered the loss, surrendering five runs, four earned, on just seven base hits that included six singles. The Marion, N.C., native struck out two over his six innings of work in his first start of the year over his first three appearances. Freshman reliever Ty McCulloch scattered three hits over his three scoreless innings of work out of the bullpen, countering a walk with a strikeout.
Three Raiders finished with multi-hit games as back-up catcher Brandon Gitrow finished 2-for-3 with a double while first baseman Damon Dues and designated hitter Zane Harris both went 2-for-4. Burdick’s three-run homer in the six was his lone hit of the game, providing the game-winning runs.
Wright State starter Bear Bellomy (1-2) scored his first win of the season, limiting WCU to just four hits over six innings of work with an earned run allowed. Bellomy struck out three with just two free passes including a walk and a hit batter. Evan Moores, the fourth pitcher used by Wright State, picked up his first save of the year, striking out one in a perfect, 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Western Carolina (5-3) returns to action in game three of the 2019 Keith LeClair Classic at ECU, facing the Utah Utes out of the Pac-12 on Saturday with an updated game time of 11:00 am. Fans can follow Saturday’s action with live stats as well as keep track of any weather-related schedule changes online at CatamountSports.com or through social media using the handle @Catamounts or @WCUCatamountBSB.
Keith LeClair Classic - Updated Weekend Schedule:
11:00 am: Utah vs. Western Carolina
2:30 pm: ECU vs. Utah (resumption of today’s game)
ECU vs. Wright State (45 minutes after the conclusion of ECU vs. Utah)
10:00 am: Utah vs. Wright State
1:30 pm: ECU vs. Western Carolina