Athens, Ga. - Six Bulldog pitchers combined to hold the potent Western Carolina offense in check on Wednesday night as Georgia limited the Catamounts to just two hits in a 6-0 shutout in nonconference action at Foley Field.
Wednesday was the third time this season that Western Carolina (23-24) has been shutout -- each coming against a Bulldog moniker (UNC Asheville, Gardner-Webb and Georgia). WCU has one shutout victory this season, an 11-0 blanking of The Citadel Bulldogs back on April 23.
Redshirt sophomore Pierce Suttles and junior Nobu Suzuki both singled as the Catamounts suffered their fifth loss in the last six games. Suttles, who pinch hit in the designated hitter role, singled through the left side in the second inning, adding a stolen base before being left at second base. Suzuki likewise singled deep in the hole at short and also swiped second in the sixth inning.
Junior Matt Smith reached three times in four trips to the plate, drawing a trio of walks, while redshirt junior Bryson Bowman was aboard twice, bookending his outing with an HBP and a walk. Smith and Bowman reached both in the first and ninth innings in WCU's best scoring opportunities on the night. Bowman was left at third after a second double-play in the final frame as the Catamounts looked to mount a late rally.
Senior Kramer Ferrell was also plunked by his team-leading 13th pitch on Wednesday night.
Redshirt junior Dillon Bray (1-3) took the loss for the Catamounts, surrendering three runs on five hits as the second pitcher to toe the rubber on Wednesday night. Senior Colton Davis struck out one in a perfect first inning of the planned short start before Bray took over in the second. Bray, a southpaw from Hamptonville, N.C., struck out a game-high four before giving way to junior transfer Chad Mabini who tossed two-thirds of a frame.
Sophomore LHP Corey Sikes tossed a team-long 2.1 innings, pitching around a pair of walks while senior Taylor Durand and second-year right-hander Dylan Biumi both tossed an inning in relief. Durand tallied a strikeout while Biumi surrendered a run on two hits.
Georgia (24-25) scored its first run in the third inning as shortstop Nick King scored from third on a called balk by Bray to put the Red & Black in front, 1-0. An inning later, the Bulldogs would tack on four runs as the first two batters reached on a walk and a double. Catcher Michael Curry then lifted a sacrifice fly to right before Adam Sasser drove a run-scoring single into center field to make it 3-0. Skyler Weber capped scoring in the inning with a two-RBI double to deep center to push the `Dogs ahead, 5-0.
The score would hold until a two-out solo home run by Curry in the eighth inning provided the final tally, 6-0.
Georgia reliever Kevin Smith (4-1) picked up the victory, the first reliever out of the bullpen after freshman Blakely Brown exited by design after a one-inning start. Brown put two men aboard with a HBP and a walk in the first inning but recorded a strikeout to strand the two runners. Smith tossed three innings of one-hit, scoreless relief, working around a walk in the longest outing by any Bulldog hurler.
Offensively, three Bulldogs finished with two-hit games as Curry finished 2-for-2 with the homer and a sacrifice fly to account for his two RBI. Sasser and King both went 2-for-4 for the home squad in the winning effort.
Western Carolina returns to Cullowhee this weekend for its final three home games of the 2016 season. The Catamounts, third in the Southern Conference standings, host league-leader, UNCG () at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The three-game series opens Friday with first pitch at 5:00 pm and continues with a 2:00 pm start on Saturday. Prior to Sunday's finale at 1:00 pm, WCU will honor its seven seniors in a special pregame ceremony.
Fans can follow each game this weekend online with live GameTracker through CatamountSports.com, with live streaming video available online through the SoCon Digital Network.