Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina's offense scratched the Childress Field / Hennon Stadium scoreboard for 10 runs on 14 base hits -- all singles -- while its pitching staff combined for 13 strikeouts as the Catamount baseball team claimed its Southern Conference series-opener over Samford, 10-5, Friday evening.
WCU (18-14, 9-1 SoCon) answered an Austin Edens two-run home run in the top of the first inning with a six-run home half to grab a 6-2 lead it would never relinquish. The Catamounts led by as many as seven, 10-3, and had a 10-4 advantage entering the ninth inning before Edens went deep again to provide the final tally.
Senior Danny Bermudez led the Catamounts with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with a trio of singles including a RBI knock in the second inning. Senior Kramer Ferrell extended his active hitting streak to 17-straight games with a 2-for-4 outing with a two-RBI single in the first inning, while junior Matt Smith tallied a pair of singles in a 2-for-3 performance, stretching his hit streak to 11-consecutive. The Fredericktown, Ohio, native plated a run on a sacrifice fly in the winning effort.
Redshirt junior J.D. Long was a fourth Catamount with a multi-hit game with two singles and a couple of RBI, while sophomore Spencer Holcomb delivered a two-run scoring single in the decisive first frame.
Sophomore starter Brendan Nail (2-4) scattered three runs and four hits over five innings to score the victory. The Greensboro, N.C., native worked around four walks with four strikeouts before turning it over to the bullpen. Second-year reliever Dylan Biumi struck out three in an inning and two-thirds, allowing a run on three hits, while senior Colton Davis recorded six strikeouts in his two innings of work before sophomore Corey Sikes got the final out to secure the win.
Just minutes after Edens staked the Bulldogs to the 2-0 lead, the visitors appeared poised to carry the two-run lead into the second inning. However, the Catamounts scored six runs with two outs in the home half of the opening frame to lead 6-2 after one.
WCU used a pair of walks and an infield single by Bermudez that careened off the infield umpire, ending the play on a dead ball in a potential RBI opportunity that loaded the bases. Ferrell stayed hot with a two-RBI single that tied the game ahead of a third free pass again loaded the bases before Holcomb's two-run single. Long capped the scoring with a third, two-RBI single for WCU.
Samford (19-15, 5-5 SoCon) cut the lead in half with a solo marker in the top of the second to make it 6-3, but WCU again answered in the home portion of the frame on the second single by Bermudez to bring home Nobu Suzuki who had been hit by a pitch.
A throwing error on a Suzuki sacrifice bunt attempt allowed Brown, who finished 1-for-4, to circle the base paths with the first of two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Suzuki reached on the infield single, advancing to second on the miscue before eventually scoring on Smith's sac fly to left.
Samford's best threat came in the seventh inning as the Bulldogs got a one-out, RBI single by Heath Quinn before eventually loading the bases. However, Biumi rallied back to strikeout out Danny Rodriguez ahead of Davis who ended the frame with a punch out of catcher Richard Green to strand the bases loaded.
Including the two Ks in the seventh, the Catamounts recorded six-consecutive outs via the strikeout as Davis fanned the side in the eighth and the first batter of the ninth before Edens' second homer cleared the fence in right field. Davis struck out Alex Lee before handing the ball to Sikes who induced a game-ending pop-up as the Catamounts tallied their ninth-straight league victory.
The three in the heart of the Samford order each collected two hits apiece with Edens homering twice for three RBI and a pair of runs scored. Quinn tallied a double as both he and Lee finished 2-for-5 for the Bulldogs.
Samford starter Jared Brasher (2-4) was lifted in the second inning, tagged for six runs on four hits with four walks in the loss. Reliever Tristan Widra -- one of five Bulldog pitchers to appear -- tossed a team-long 3.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with two strikeouts while Caleb Maggio also fanned two in an inning and a third out of the bullpen.
Game two of the three-game Southern Conference series is scheduled for 2:00 pm ET on Saturday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The game will be streamed online on the SoCon Digital Network with live GameTracker available online at CatamountSports.com.