Greenville, N.C. – Utah exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, pushing a five-run advantage to the final tally as the Utes downed Western Carolina 14-0 Saturday afternoon in game three of the 2019 Keith LeClair Classic at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Nine of the Utes’ 14 runs came over their final two at bats, opening up what was a three-run affair through six innings.
Sophomore transfer Daylan Nanny doubled as a part of a two-hit outing, finishing 2-for-4 to lead the Catamounts in the loss while classmates Will Prater and Bryson Parks also reaching on singles, the latter on a bunt. Justin Sparks came through with a pinch hit, one-out single in the top of the seventh inning, but would be the final WCU player to reach as Utah retired eight-straight over the final 2.2 innings to pick-up the victory.
WCU missed two golden opportunities to light the scoreboard, twice loading the bases but coming away with nothing. In the third inning, Nanny doubled to right field with one out with Justice Bigbie and Luke Robinson walking before a strikeout ended the threat. Bigbie walked twice in the loss while Robinson’s free pass extended his reached base safely streak to 21-consecutive games including all nine games this season and the final 12 he played in a year ago.
Two innings later, Parks reached on a bunt single before Nanny singled as the first two runners reached. Matthew Koehler laid down a sacrifice bunt to push both runners into scoring position before an intentional walk to Bigbie again loaded the bases. However, an inning-ending double-play thwarted the scoring chance for the Catamounts.
Redshirt senior Taylor Purus (1-1) was saddled with the loss, surrendering three earned runs on five hits over five innings with a strikeout against two walks. WCU was forced to use five relievers over the final three innings including freshman Eric Wallington making his collegiate debut and redshirt junior Andrew Bullock toeing the rubber for the first time in college, finishing off the eighth inning with a walk and a strikeout.
Three Utah players finished with two-hit games including a 2-for-3, three-run outing by second baseman Oliver Dunn and 2-for-3 showings by both Chandler Anderson and Jayden Kiernan. Shortstop Matt Richardson drove in a team-high three runs in the winning effort.
Utah’s Riley Pierce (1-2) scored his first victory of the season, working around five walks with five strikeouts, limiting WCU to four hits over five scoreless innings. Two relievers combined for the final four innings with three strikeouts for the Utes.
Western Carolina (5-4) wraps up tournament play at the Keith LeClair Classic on Sunday, facing the nationally-ranked tournament host ECU Pirates with first pitch at 1:30 pm. Live audio and video of the tournament finale is available online at ECUPirates.com with links also available at CatamountSports.com.