Manhattan, Kansas - Western Carolina scored early-and-often on Sunday afternoon, sweeping its three-game nonconference series over Kansas State with a 10-2 victory in game three at Tointon Family Stadium. The Catamounts gave freshman starter Tristan Baker an early, seven-run cushion as the southpaw claimed the victory on the mound.
WCU's three-game series sweep of the Wildcats represents the first time since 1993 that K-State has been swept in a three-game nonconference series at home.
Baker (2-2) capped a solid weekend for WCU's left-handed starters, tossing a strong seven scoreless innings for the Catamounts, only facing trouble in one inning of his start. The left-hander from Charlotte, N.C., struck out six against just one walk to tally the victory.
Junior transfer Chad Mabini surrendered two runs on three hits in an inning of work out of the bullpen with classmate B.J. Nobles making his second appearance in as many days to toss the ninth, allowing a hit in a scoreless inning of work.
Offensively, seven of WCU's nine batters collected base hits including five with multi-hit games in the team's fourth-consecutive seasonal victory. Senior Kramer Ferrell and sophomore Spencer Holcomb paced the squad with 3-for-5 showings at the dish, combining for four RBI including a game-high three by Ferrell, two coming on a first inning triple. Holcomb doubled twice in the DH role.
WCU's first three in the line-up each finished 2-for-5. Senior Garrett Brown doubled once in his two-hit outing while junior Nobu Suzuki and Danny Bermudez both collected a pair of singles with Suzuki scoring twice.
Western Carolina (9-10) jumped out to an early lead in the first inning, plating three runs to grab the advantage. Back-to-back, one-out singles by Suzuki and Bermudez put runners at the corners before a Matt Smith sacrifice fly put the Catamounts in front, 1-0. Bowman drew a walk to put two aboard before Ferrell laced a two RBI triple down the right field line to make it 3-0 after half an inning.
In the second, WCU had two men aboard just two pitches into the frame after a lead-off single by Holcomb in his first plate appearance of the series and a HBP to J.D. Long. A Brown single loaded the bases with no outs. Suzuki then drove in the game's fourth run with his second single of the day, plating Holcomb for the 4-0 lead and keeping the bases loaded. An infield error and run-scoring double-play plated two additional runs before the fourth crossed the plate on a wild pitch for the 7-0 advantage.
WCU's seven runs in the first two frames represented the first scoring before the fifth inning in each of the three series games.
K-State (11-9) managed to load the bases in the third inning against Baker, but the Catamounts were able to escape the jam and maintain the seven-run cushion.
WCU would tack on three insurance markers in the top of the seventh inning coming on three-consecutive, run-scoring doubles. Bowman, Ferrell, and Holcomb each delivered RBI two-base hits with one out in the frame to stretch the lead to 10-0. All told in the inning, six-straight Catamount hitters reached base.
The home squad capitalized on an infield error and consecutive singles in the bottom of the eighth inning to break-up WCU's shutout bid. Second baseman Jake Wodtke reached on the miscue before pinch hitter Matt Nerv singled into right field two batters later to put K-State in the score column. The Wildcats continued to threaten with two runners aboard. However, with runners at the corners, a diving play by Suzuki on a would-be base hit robbed Scudder from a single to end the threat.
Trailing by nine entering the ninth inning, K-State took advantage of a walk and back-to-back singles before a second WCU error allowed second run to make it 10-2. But Nobles was able to secure three-consecutive fly ball outs to end the game.
For K-State, starter Jacob Ruder (0-2) took the loss after allowing WCU's first seven runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout in three innings of work. Reliever Colton Kalmus matched Ruder with three innings on the mound, holding the Catamounts scoreless with just two hits allowed. Mitch Zubradt was tagged for three earned runs on three hits in just a third of an inning, the third of five Wildcat pitchers used.
Three Wildcats posted multi-hit games as K-State finished with 10 total base knocks -- all singles -- and stranded 10 runners on base. Clayton Dalrymple and Tyler Wolfe were both 2-for-5 while catcher Josh Rolette finished 2-for-4. Pinch hitter, Nerv, collected K-State's lone RBI.
Western Carolina opens a four-game week on Tuesday as it travels to nationally-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill before returning home to open Southern Conference play Thursday through Saturday as rival East Tennessee State comes to Cullowhee for a three-game series. North Carolina (17-2) -- winners of five-straight -- is coming off a three-game sweep of arch-rival, Duke.
First pitch on Tuesday at UNC's Boshamer Stadium is scheduled for 6:00 pm.