Greenville, S.C. – Western Carolina rallied from a two-run deficit to force extra innings on Saturday afternoon before plating a pair of runs in the top of the 10th to upend the Michigan State Spartans, 6-4, in the first game of the First Pitch Invitational played at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive.
Trailing by two, 4-2, entering the top of the ninth inning, the Catamounts put their first two runners aboard as Andrew Robinson was plunked by a pitch ahead of Daylan Nanny who legged out a double to put two in scoring position. Matthew Koehler grounded out to the right side of the infield to allow Robinson to scamper home and push Nanny to within 90 feet with the game-winning run. Justice Bigbie then delivered his second single of the game, plating Nanny with the tying marker.
In the 10th, Justin Sparks ignited a one-out rally with a single to right before Immanuel Wilder laced a double down the right field line. Jalen Jones, who had two hits in the win, drew the bases-loading intentional walk before Robinson dropped a blooper into shallow center field to score Sparks, though an out was recorded at second base from the outfield. A second MSU error allowed Wilder to score an insurance marker.
A one-out single up the middle gave the Spartans hope in the bottom of the 10th, but WCU converted a fourth double-play ball to end the ball game.
Six Catamounts posted two-hit games as WCU out-hit Michigan State, 13-to-7. Five of WCU’s six runs in the win had RBIs attached. Jalen Jones finished 2-for-4 with a double and a walk to lead the way while Nanny and Sparks were both 2-for-5 with two-baggers. Pinch-hitting in the sixth inning, Wilder reached three times with two hits including a double adding a walk.
Andrew Robinson walked twice and drove in the game-winning run on his 10th-inning fielder’s choice that he deposited into center.
Redshirt sophomore Chase Walter (1-2) scored the victory for the Catamounts out of the bullpen, the third arm used by WCU in the come-from-behind win. Walter tossed 2.2 scoreless innings, limiting the Spartans to just three hits while striking out three. Sophomore Zach Franklin did the yeoman’s work in relief of starter Jack Snyder who allowed just two runs on only one hit over two innings. Franklin struck out four over 5.1 innings, working around three walks and three hits to hold the Spartans to two runs and kept the Catamounts within striking distance.
Outfielders Justice Antonic (2-for-4) and Dan Chmielewski (2-for-3) both collected two hits apiece for Michigan State (2-10) with Adam Proctor hitting a two-out home run in the second inning that gave the Spartans a 2-0 lead they enjoyed until Nanny scored Sparks on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning.
Reliever Caleb Sleeman (0-1) was tagged with the loss, surrendering four of WCU’s six runs though just three were earned. Mason Erla held the Catamounts in check over a 5.1 inning start, scattering six hits with just one run allowed and seven strikeouts.
Winners of two-straight, Western Carolina (7-5) wraps-up play in the weather-shortened First Pitch Invitational on Sunday evening as it faces the Ohio State Buckeyes at 5:00 pm at Fluor Field. Sunday’s game is slated to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live audio provided online at CatamountSports.com.