Cullowhee, N.C. – Sophomore RHP Zach Franklin struck out six over a seven-inning relief effort on Friday night as Western Carolina claimed game one of its three-game nonconference baseball series over former league-foe, Elon, 5-2, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Franklin, a native of Marion, N.C., scattered five hits over his seven innings out of the bullpen, allowing just one run on a lead-off solo homer in the seventh inning to score his second victory of the season. WCU won its fifth-straight overall since dropping three at the Keith LeClair Classic.
Sophomore infielder Will Prater drove in two runs in a 2-for-4 performance to lead the Catamount offense, collecting WCU’s only extra base hit despite out-hitting the Phoenix, 8-to-7. The Dallas, Ga., native extended his current hitting streak to seven-straight that includes six-consecutive, multi-hit games.
Outfielders Daylan Nanny and Matthew Koehler stretched their reached base safely streaks to 11 games, respectively, as Nanny reached twice with a walk and a single in a 1-for-4 showing while Koehler was plunked, scoring in the seventh inning.
Prater pushed across the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning with a bases loaded ground out to first giving the Catamounts a short-lived, 1-0, advantage. In the top of the second Anthony Galason drove a one-out double down the right field line, eventually scoring on a bases loaded HBP to knot the game at one apiece.
Western Carolina surged back in front for good in the home portion of the second inning as Justin Sparks drew a one-out walk and scored on a RBI single by Nanny. The Catamounts stretched their lead in the fifth as Prater ignited a two-out rally with a single through the left side. An error on a failed pickoff attempt at first moved Prater into scoring position with Jalen Jones bouncing a run-scoring knock up the middle to make it 3-1 in favor of the home squad through five complete.
Infielder Adam Spurlin led-off the top of the seventh with a solo homer to left field to claw the Phoenix back to within a run, 3-2. It would be as close as Elon would get, though, as the Catamounts found the first crooked number of the game with a two-spot in the home half. Consecutive HBPs to Matthew Koehler and Justice Bigbie put two aboard with a balk moving both runners further into scoring position. Luke Robinson gave WCU back the two-run cushion with a sacrifice fly to center field for his team-leading 20th RBI before Prater doubled down the left field line to provide the finally tally.
Franklin struck out the side in the eighth, working around a two-out error, and the Catamount defense turned its third double-play of the day in the ninth to help secure the win.
Junior transfer Jack Snyder started the game for WCU on Friday, striking out one against a pair of walks in tossing the first two frames. Snyder was tagged for a run on just two hits before giving way to Franklin.
Elon starter Kyle Brnovich (1-2) suffered the loss despite limiting WCU to three runs – only one of which was earned – on seven hits with six strikeouts and a pair of walks. Reliever Dean McCarthy was touched up for two earned runs, plunking two with one hit allowed, while Naushon Galbraith and Joe Sprake struck out four of their 10 Ks on the day over the final two frames.
Cam Devanney collected the only multi-hit game for the Phoenix in a 2-for-4 showing while Galason with a double and Spurlin with the home run tallied the only two extra base hits.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday afternoon with a 2:00 pm first pitch on-campus at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. Fans can follow the game with live audio coverage from the Catamount Sports Network beginning at 1:45 pm as well as live stats through CatamountSports.com.