Lexington, Va. - Western Carolina swept both ends of its Sunday doubleheader against VMI, riding a middle inning offensive explosion to win the series with a 21-7 victory in game one before outlasting the Keydets, 14-11, to take game two at Gray-Minor Stadium.
The Catamounts amassed 14 extra base hits among the 34 they tallied in sweeping the twin bill, belting a combined eight home runs on Sunday for a series total of 13 round-trippers. WCU (17-13, 8-1 SoCon) scored 35 runs on Sunday for a total of 42 on the weekend, outscoring the Keydets, 42-to-19, in securing their second-straight SoCon series sweep.
Senior outfielders Kramer Ferrell (6-for-8) and Garrett Brown (6-for-13) led the team with six hits apiece with Ferrell tallying two doubles and a pair of home runs and a team-leading eight RBI in the doubleheader. Junior Matt Smith homered twice in a 5-for-9 showing in the two games, scoring six runs while senior catcher Danny Bermudez scored a team-best seven runs, homering once as a part of a two-hit day with five walks drawn.
Western Carolina is scheduled to conclude its current seven-game road swing with a Tuesday night meeting with nationally-ranked Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers dropped 2-of-3 at Duke this weekend in ACC play. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 pm in a game that will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live audio available online at CatamountSports.com.
Game One Recap: Western Carolina 21, VMI 7
Western Carolina erupted for 21 runs over the middle frames of game one of Sunday's doubleheader, erasing a 1-0 deficit before cruising to the 21-7 victory over VMI, claiming the series with the win. The Catamounts pounded out 20 base hits while its pitching staff combined for 10 strikeouts in the winning effort of game one.
Seven Catamounts posted multi-hit games with Garrett Brown leading the way with a 4-for-7, three RBI performance. Both of Kramer Ferrell's two hits in a 2-for-4 showing went for extra bases with a double and a home run, driving in a team-high four runs. Caleb Robinson also plated three runners, belting a homer in the win.
Junior LHP Bryan Sammons (5-1) picked up the victory on the mound, striking out four against six walks through six innings. The Wilmington, N.C., product limited VMI to three runs, only two of which were earned on four hits. Freshman Jake Moebius recorded his lone out on a strikeout while redshirt junior Dillon Bray struck out a career-high six including fanning the side in the eighth inning, finishing just a third of an inning shy of the three-inning save.
While the offense scored 15 runs through the middle third of the game, the Catamount defense helped its starting pitcher, Sammons, by ending three-straight frames with double plays -- two on ground balls turned on the middle of the diamond and one on a line drive to Smith at first base.
VMI grabbed the early lead with two outs in the home half of the second inning as Jacob Jaye drew a lead-off walk. He stole second base and took third as the throw down skipped into center field before Peyton Maddox pushed a single up the middle to plate the run.
Western Carolina, though, was able to jump in front for the first time with a five-run fourth inning, sending nine batters to the plate. With two batters aboard, Danny Bermudez looked to sacrifice the runners further into scoring position, but his perfectly-placed bunt allowed him to reach on the single. Then, after falling behind early in the count, Caleb Robinson coaxed a bases loaded walk to plate the first run before Pierce Suttles and Brown delivered two-run base knocks to left center and up the middle, respectively, for the 5-1 lead.
An inning later, the Catamounts played long ball with two outs. Bermudez tallied his second hit of the game on a solo homer out to left field. Ferrell then doubled ahead of Robinson who collected his second and third RBI of the afternoon on a two-run home run to straight-away center for the 8-1 edge.
The Catamounts broke the game open in the top of the sixth inning with a seven-run frame. Smith grounded a single through the right side with the bases full to plate two to make it 10-1. Ferrell later earned a RBI on a bases loaded HBP before Robinson drove in another marker on a single through the left side to stretch it to 12-1 margin. Freshman Andrew Bullock collected a RBI walk in a pinch-hit role with J.D. Long recording a RBI on a sacrifice fly to center before Brown delivered a run-scoring single through the left side to cap scoring with the Catamounts ahead, 15-1.
VMI responded in the bottom of the frame as David Geary reached on a chopping single to first before Matt Pita homered on a line drive over the left field fence to make it 15-3.
WCU got those runs back -- and more -- in the top of the seventh inning as the Catamounts hung six on the board in the frame. Bermudez drew a bases loaded walk for his second RBI of the game before Ferrell blasted a grand slam home run over the fence. The Catamounts went back-to-back with home runs as Virginia native Reece Strong homered over the fence in right as a pinch hitter.
VMI battled back with four runs in the bottom of the seventh off the Catamount bullpen including a three-run home run by David Geary to ultimately provide the final score, 21-7.
Starter Brandon Barbery (3-4) suffered the loss for the Keydets, allowing eight runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts. VMI used seven different pitchers in the game.
Game Two Recap: Western Carolina 14, VMI 11
Picking up where it left off in game one of the doubleheader, Western Carolina plated nine runs over the first two frames, racing out to a 9-3 lead early in the night cap. However, VMI rallied to tie the game at 10 apiece in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Catamounts managed to score four of the final five runs of the series, winning game two, 14-11.
Senior Colton Davis (5-1) scored the win in relief, scattering four hits over 3.1 innings with a game-high six strikeouts. The Commerce, Ga., native worked around a walk, allowing four runs -- only one of which was earned as WCU committed three errors. Junior B.J. Nobles tallied the three-inning save, his third of the season, striking out five including two in the 1-2-3 ninth inning. Nobles allowed a run on three hits.
Catamount starter Tristan Baker went 2.2 innings in the starting role, striking out two while walking three, giving up six runs on six hits.
WCU capitalized on four VMI errors through the first two frames to plate its first seven runs.
The Catamounts scored four runs on three hits while capitalizing on three VMI errors in the top of the first inning to grab the 4-0 lead. However, Collin Fleischer belted a three-run home run to make it a one-run game, 4-3, after one.
In the top of the second, the Catamounts again hung a crooked number on the board, scoring five runs on three hits with a fourth Keydet error. After Brown doubled and scored, Matt Smith and Kramer Ferrell both belted two-run homers to take a 9-3 lead after two innings.
VMI tallied a three-run inning in the home half of the third as Geary homered before Maddox and Tyler Tharp drove in runs on hits, a double and single, respectively. It was 9-6 after three innings before both teams got solo homers in the fourth as Bowman blasted one out to left before Collin Fleischer homered to center field.
The Keydets rallied with a third, three-run frame in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game, 10-10, taking advantage of a pair of WCU throwing errors including one on a sacrifice bunt attempt that led to two runs scoring. With the subsequent runner at third, the equalizing marker scored on a wild pitch to knot the teams through six complete.
The deadlock was short-lived, though, as Matt Smith led off the seventh inning with a solo home run as a part of a two-run frame that pushed the Catamounts back in front, 12-10. WCU expanded the margin to three in the top of the eighth inning as back-to-back doubles by Suzuki and Bowman plated a run and a 13-10 edge.
VMI closed back to within two, 13-11, on a RBI single by Jacob Jaye in the home half of the eighth. However, the Catamounts reclaimed the three-run cushion in the top of the ninth, providing the final tally as Ferrell scored from third on sixth VMI error. Nobles struck out the first two batters of the ninth inning before inducing a ground out to first base to end the game and the series.