Bloomington, Ind. - Western Carolina baseball split a doubleheader at Indiana on Saturday, evening the best-of-three series with a 4-1 win in game one before dropping the finale, 9-1, at Bart Kaufman Field. Coupled with its 3-2 victory on Friday afternoon, Indiana claimed the first-ever series between the two teams, two games to one.
Sophomore infielder Brett Pope led the Catamount offense in the twin bill, collecting four hits in a 4-for-9 performance between the two games. Senior Garrett Brown doubled twice on Saturday in a 3-for-7 outing, scoring two of WCU's five runs.
Junior Matt Smith saw his seasonal hitting streak end at 13-straight after going 2-for-5 with a triple in the first game. However, a knee injury removed him from the lineup early in game two, leaving him 0-for-2 and halting the team-long run. Classmate Bryson Bowman had a RBI double in the first game as a part of a 2-for-7 day at the plate, also reaching twice on a walk and a HBP.
In game two, freshman Andrew Bullock chalked up his first RBI on a run-scoring single through the right side, plating Brown from second base to provide the Catamounts' lone marker in the finale.
Game One Recap: Western Carolina 4, Indiana 1
Junior LHP Bryan Sammons (2-1) tossed a career-long eight innings as Western Carolina pulled even in the best-of-three series at Indiana with a 4-1 victory in the front end of Saturday's twin bill. Sammons was superb on the mound, limiting the Hoosier hitters to one run while scattering six base hits. The Wilmington, N.C., native struck out nine batters -- one shy of his career high -- with just one walk.
Offensively, the Catamounts pounded out 14 base hits as six players tallied multi-hit games. Sophomore Brett Pope led the way with a 3-for-5 outing with a trio of singles and a run scored. Garrett Brown doubled and scored in the two-run fifth while outfield counterpart Bryson Bowman had a RBI double in the opening frame of the day.
WCU scored in the first inning for the eighth time this season, grabbing a 1-0 lead on Bowman's two-base hit bringing Pope to the plate. The lead was short-lived, though, as back-to-back doubles by Indiana's Craig Dedelow and Luke Miller tied the game at one.
Sammons then took over on the mound, dominating the middle innings. After allowing a one-out single to Austin Cangelosi in the second inning -- who was later gunned out trying to steal second by Danny Bermudez -- Sammons and the Catamounts retired 12-consecutive IU batters, keeping the home squad hitless until the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, WCU built a lead it would never relinquish, retaking the lead in the fourth as Caleb Robinson drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on an infield error on a J.D. Long single that momentarily loaded the bases.
In the fifth, a leadoff double by Brown and single by Bermudez put two aboard for Matt Smith who laced a run-scoring single through the left side for the 3-1 advantage. Three batters later, Robinson delivered a bases loaded sacrifice fly to bring home fourth marker.
Sammons worked out of two jams before relinquishing the mound to junior B.J. Nobles in the ninth inning. In the sixth, Indiana snapped the string of 12-straight retired with back-to-back singles from Alex Krupa and Tony Butler. A two-out HBP loaded the bases before Sammons induced an inning-ending fly ball to left field.
An inning later, the Hoosiers again threatened with a one-out double followed by a walk to put two aboard. However, Sammons again got help from his defense as Bermudez threw out a second would-be base stealer trying to steal third for the second out. He then closed the inning with a 1-6-3 ground ball out as the ball deflected off his cleat but ended up in the glove and throwing hand of Brett Pope to end the frame.
Sammons tossed a perfect eighth, tallying his ninth strikeout, before handing the ball to Nobles in the ninth. The Raleigh, N.C. native faced the minimum in the ninth to secure the save -- the first of his WCU career.
Indiana starter Evan Bell (0-1) was saddled with the loss for Indiana, tagged for all four runs -- three of which were earned -- through four and a third. He gave up 10 hits while walking one. At the plate, Cangelosi led Indiana with two hits while the remaining four knocks were spread between four different players.
Game Two Recap: Indiana 9, Western Carolina 1
Indiana got six solid innings from starting pitcher Caleb Baragar (1-1), holding the Catamount offense in check while capitalizing on two big innings to close the series with a 9-1 victory in game two of Saturday's doubleheader.
Baragar tossed six scoreless innings, working through the first six batters in succession and limited WCU to just four singles in the start.
Indiana grabbed a 1-0 lead after three innings before posting a three-run frame in the fourth and a four-run sixth to take the commanding lead.
WCU freshman Tristan Baker (0-2) took the loss, exiting after four innings of work. The Charlotte, N.C., native surrendered four runs -- only two of which were earned -- on five hits with a pair of walks and a strikeout. Senior Colton Davis tossed an inning and two thirds with a strikeout, with Nobles fanning the one batter in which he faced in the sixth inning.
Offensively, Caleb Robinson led WCU with a 2-for-4 outing at the plate with a pair of singles with Andrew Bullock driving home Garrett Brown in the top of the eighth inning to score its lone run in the loss. WCU stranded eight base runners on base.
The Hoosiers (5-8) had two players with multi-hits in the finale with Luke Miller going 2-for-3 and Friday afternoon's hero -- Brian Wilhite -- going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored. All but one of IU's position starters recorded a hit in the victory.
Western Carolina (5-10), which is amidst a stretch of playing seven of eight games away from Cullowhee, makes its lone stop at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium next Wednesday, March 16 as it hosts the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs for a 4:00 pm first pitch. The Catamounts then play four-straight on the road including a three-game set at Kansas State (March 18-20), and a midweek tilt at in-state rival, nationally-ranked North Carolina (March 22).