Spartanburg, S.C. - J.D. Long spurred a five-run sixth inning for Western Carolina with his first career grand slam home run on Friday night, and starting pitcher Brendan Nail did the rest as the Catamounts claimed their Southern Conference series-opener over Wofford, 9-1, at Russell C. King Field.
Western Carolina (12-13, 3-1 SoCon) scored all but one of its runs in the middle third of the game, outhitting the Terriers, 10-to-4. Two Catamount pitchers recorded a combined 10 strikeouts of Wofford batters, winning the first meeting between the two in Spartanburg since 2012.
Long finished 1-for-4 with the four RBI on his second career home run, while sophomore Caleb Robinson drove in two runs on a 2-for-3 outing with a pair of run-scoring singles in the winning effort. Senior Garrett Brown extended his current hitting streak to a career-long 12-straight games with a 2-for-5 performance while Kramer Ferrell doubled with a RBI, stretching his active hit streak to 10-consecutive.
On the mound, Nail (1-4) matched a career-high with seven strikeouts in a career-long tying 7.0 innings in the starting role to score his first victory of the season. The second-year southpaw from Greensboro, N.C., limited Wofford to just one run on three singles, working around three walks. Nail pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth inning as the Terriers loaded the bases with no outs, but managed to get a ground ball out and two strikeouts to stem the tide and limit the rally to just one run.
Sophomore reliever Dylan Biumi tossed the final two frames out of the bullpen, striking out a career-high three against a walk and a hit in two innings of scoreless relief.
Western Carolina broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth inning, plating a pair of runs to take a two-run advantage. Ferrell drove home junior Matt Smith from third on an infield fielder's choice before Robinson punched one into left field to score senior Danny Bermudez for the 2-0 lead.
WCU tacked on a third marker in the top of the fifth, manufacturing a run. Brown singled into right before being sacrificed to second by Nobu Suzuki and advanced to third on a right-side ground out by Bryson Bowman, ultimately scoring on a wild pitch for the 3-0 advantage.
Wofford (16-11, 1-3 SoCon) experienced its best offensive opportunity in the fifth inning as the first three batters reached without WCU recording an out -- and without a ball leaving the infield. Mack Nathanson singled just in front of home plate before Demetrius Jennings reached on a fielder's choice sacrifice bunt as the throw to second was arrant leaving both runners safe. Derek Hirsh then laid a perfect bunt single to the left side, resulting in a bases loaded jam with nobody out.
The Terriers plated their first run of the game on a run-scoring groundout to second by Alec Paradowski, leaving two men aboard. Nail then struck out Max McDougald for the second out before the bases were loaded for a second time on a walk to McClain Bradley. Yet, Nail managed to strikeout clean-up hitter Brett Hash to end the threat, limiting the Wofford rally to just one run.
WCU broke the game open in the top of the sixth inning, though, plating five runs -- three of which were earned. Two walks and a fielder's choice throwing error allowed the Catamounts to load the bases before Long's one-out home run that was belted over the fence in left center field. Suzuki was driven in on Matt Smith's run-scoring single to cap the five-run frame.
The Catamounts added one final marker in the top of the ninth as Ferrell drew a two-out walk and eventually crossed the dish on Robinson's second RBI single.
Wofford starter Matthew Milburn (4-3) -- the SoCon's preseason Pitcher of the Year -- was chased after five and a third inning, suffering his third-consecutive defeat of the season. Milburn allowed eight runs -- five of which were earned -- on seven hits including two for extra bases with two strikeouts against a season-high tying four walks.
The four Terrier hits were scattered between four different players with Derek Hirsh reaching three times with a 1-for-2, two walk showing. Paradowski tallied the lone RBI in a 0-for-5 outing.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Spartanburg with first pitch at 3:00 pm. WCU will send junior LHP Bryan Sammons to the mound while Wofford counters with sophomore LHP Adam Scott, who like Milburn was a preseason All-SoCon first team selection.
Fans can watch Wofford's production on the SoCon Digital Network (SoConDigitalNetwork.com/WCU) or tune into live streaming audio from the Catamount Sports Network online at CatamountSports.com.