Wilmington, N.C. - St. John's scored runs in all but two innings in which it took swings on Sunday, riding a pair of four-run frames to a double-digit lead and a 14-3 victory over Western Carolina in both team's finale of the Buffalo Wild Wings "Battle at the Beach" at Brooks Field.
WCU grabbed an early, 1-0, lead as Garrett Brown reached on a HBP to lead-off the game and was driven home on a RBI single by Matt Smith. However, the lead was short-lived as the Red Storm lit the scoreboard for twice in the bottom of the first inning to grab an advantage it would never relinquish.
Brown scored two of WCU's three runs, reaching base every time he came to the plate including a 1-for-2 showing with a HBP, a walk and reaching on an error. The senior added a pair of stolen bases in a 2-for-3 performance on the base paths. Sophomore Brett Pope led WCU at the plate with the team's lone multi-hit game with a 2-for-4 outing that included a double.
Senior LHP Taylor Durand (0-1) took the loss for the Catamounts in his season debut, surrendering four runs -- three earned -- on five hits with four strikeouts against four walks. His classmate, Colton Davis, was the second of four relievers used by WCU and was tagged for seven runs on seven hits, fanning a pair with a walk.
Leading 3-1 after three innings, the Red Storm posted back-to-back, four-run innings in the fourth and fifth innings to take a commanding, 11-1, lead.
The Catamounts were able to scratch the scoreboard twice in the top half of the seventh inning as Brown again reached in the lead-off spot, drawing a walk. Two batters later, a Danny Bermudez groundout moved him into scoring position where he was eventually driven home on a RBI single by Caleb Robinson. Sophomore Spencer Holcomb, who reached on a HBP, recorded WCU's final run, scampering home after a throwing error on the same play as Robinson's single.
All told, WCU left 10 runners on base on Sunday.
St. John's (1-2) had five players record multi-hit games with catcher Troy Dixon finishing 3-for-4 to lead the way. Left fielder Aidan McDermott was 2-for-6 with five RBI including a three-run home run. On the mound, starter Ryan McAuliffe struck out eight in 4.2 innings, only giving up a run on five hits in a no-decision. Reliever Thomas Hackimer (1-0) was awarded the victory as the most effective of four relievers, striking out two of the three outs he recorded in the ninth.
Western Carolina (0-3) concludes its season-opening, four-game road swing on Wednesday (Feb. 24) as it visits mountain-rival, UNC Asheville. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 pm. The Catamounts play their first home series next Friday through Sunday against UL-Monroe.