Cullowhee, N.C. – Returning to the lineup after nearly a year on the shelf, redshirt junior slugger Andrew Bullock collected three hits to pace four Catamounts with multi-hit games as Western Carolina opened its 2019 season with an opportunistic, 21-9, victory over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
WCU took advantage of a combined 10 Oakland errors in the opener for both squads, scoring 12 runs through the first four innings on nine of the miscues by the Golden Grizzlies, doing so with just six hits during the same span.
The 21 runs scored by the Catamounts are the most since also lighting the scoreboard for 21 in a home win over Savannah State in late April of 2017. WCU also won its season-opener for the first time since a 17-6 home win over Purdue in 2015, halting a three-game slide in games that raise the curtain on a season.
Bullock finished 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBI to go along with two runs scored to lead a WCU offense that rapped out 15 base hits – 10 going for extra bases including nine doubles. Sophomore Justice Bigbie reached base five times, adding three walks to accompany his 2-for-3 performance. A freshman All-America selection a season ago, Bigbie collected a team-high three RBI, two coming on the squad’s first home run with his seventh-inning blast to left and scored four times.
Andrew Robinson doubled twice in a 2-for-4 showing while second-year infielder Will Prater likewise legged out two doubles in a 2-for-5 performance, scoring three runs while driving in two. Junior Luke Robinson and freshman Jalen Jones both plated a pair of runs with transfer Daylan Nanny joining Prater with three runs scored.
Western Carolina opened the scoring with four runs on just one hit and five Oakland errors in the bottom of the first inning before tacking on two more markers in the third to lead, 6-0, through three complete. However, Oakland rallied back with a seven-run top of the fourth, chasing Catamount starter Chase Walter after 3.2 innings.
WCU would not trail for long, though, as consecutive doubles by
The Catamounts tacked on three runs in the seventh and another six in the eighth while Oakland managed solo markers in both the top of the seventh and ninth innings to provide the final tally.
Junior transfer Ty
Oakland (0-1) had two players post two-hit games as shortstop Mike McGee reached base four times, adding a pair of walks to his 2-for-3 showing at the dish that included a double. First baseman Drew Demumbrum also doubled in a 2-for-5 showing with Clay Thompson belting a two-run home run in the seven-run fourth inning for his lone hit in a 1-for-5 afternoon.
Oakland starter Nick Parr was saddled with the loss, surrendering 11 runs – only four of which were earned – on five hits through three innings of work. Parr walked three and plunked two against one strikeout. Three relieves toed the rubber in the opener, combining for four walks, three additional hit batters, and just two more strikeouts.
Games two and three of the season-opening series are slated for doubleheader action on Saturday with first pitch slated for Noon. Game two of the twin bill should begin 45 minutes after the end of the first game. Both games will have live stats coverage online through CatamountSports.com as well as updates through social media on Twitter using the handle, @Catamounts.