Cullowhee, N.C. – Chase Walter struck out 10 batters over a seven-inning start and Matthew Koehler drove home three in a four-hit performance as Western Carolina scored in each of the first six innings in pulling even in the best-of-three Southern Conference series with a 14-5 victory over VMI on Saturday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The series rubber match is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm and can be seen live on ESPN3 (cable or satellite subscription required). Fans can also follow the game with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com.
Koehler led five Catamounts with multi-hit games, finishing 4-for-5 with a trio of singles and a double, extending his active hitting streak to 12-straight games. Immanuel Wilder scored a game-high three runs in a 2-for-4 showing including a lead-off double with classmates Daylan Nanny and Will Prater also finishing 2-for-4. Nanny hustled into second for his 17th two-bagger of the season while Prater circled the paths on his first career home run in the second inning.
Luke Robinson rounded out the five with two-or-more base hits on Saturday, singling and scoring twice in a 2-for-4 outing to give him five hits in the weekend series.
Wilder set the tone on Saturday with a lead-off double, scoring two batters later on an infield RBI groundout by Justice Bigbie. Prater belted a two-out home run in the second with Koehler driving home Wilder for a second, two-run inning and a 4-0 lead through two complete.
Western Carolina (18-20, 7-10 SoCon) broke the game open with a six-run third inning, using just three hits while capitalizing on two Keydet errors and a trio of wild pitches that allowed runners to score from third base.
The two teams traded runs in the fourth with Will Knight reaching on a lead-off bunt single, stole second before scoring on a RBI single by Josh Hollifield. Luke Robinson scored the matching run in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI double golfed to left center field by freshman Michael Goehrig. WCU tacked on a run in the fifth on a RBI single by Andrew Bullock with a pair of unearned runs scoring in the sixth on a two-RBI single by Koehler for a 14-1 WCU advantage.
VMI (11-32, 6-11 SoCon) scored three runs in the top of the seventh, one scoring on the RBI single by Jake Huggins and two crossing home on wild pitches. Michael Diodato singled home the game’s final marker in the top of the ninth in providing the final tally, 14-5.
For a third-consecutive start, Walter (5-4) recorded double-digit strikeouts, fanning 10 Keydets over his seven inning effort. The Peachtree City, Ga., product worked around a pair of walks while scattering four runs on eight hits. Walter has 40 strikeouts the past three weeks for the Catamounts. Freshman LHP Eric Wallington struck out a career-best four over a two-inning relief effort, his second appearance of the series.
VMI starter Adam Jewell (0-8) was saddled with the loss, surrendering eight runs on eight hits over the first two innings as WCU blitzed the Keydets from the outset. Nathan Light struck out three in three relief innings and Jacob Luchansky fanned four over the final two frames for VMI.
Jonathan Clines collected two of VMI’s eight singles in a 2-for-4 showing while Knight walked twice in a 1-for-3 performance to lead the Keydets offensively.
The three-game SoCon series wraps-up on Sunday afternoon with first pitch at 1:00 pm.