Cullowhee, N.C. – Redshirt senior Matthew Koehler delivered a two-out, run-scoring base knock in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra innings on Saturday afternoon as Western Carolina rallied from a trio of deficits in nonconference play against Elon. However, the Phoenix was able to turn back the Catamount rallies each time, outlasting WCU, 12-11, in 10 innings at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Saturday’s loss sets up a Sunday rubber match between the two former league foes as WCU took Friday’s opener, 5-2. First pitch of game three is slated for 1:00 pm and can be seen live on ESPN+ (subscription required) with live stats available at CatamountSports.com.
Koehler finished a double shy of the cycle on Saturday, belting a two-run home run and legging out a first-inning triple as a part of a 3-for-5, three RBI performance with a walk. Sophomore transfer Daylan Nanny likewise had a trio of hits, plating two and scoring twice in a 3-for-6 showing. Classmate Will Prater and freshman Jalen Jones both finished 3-for-6 with a run scored with Prater driving in a run in the eighth inning to help pull the Catamounts closer in the final frames.
Junior catcher Luke Robinson and sophomore Justice Bigbie both finished with two hits including a home run by Bigbie as six Catamounts posted multi-hit performances. WCU managed to out-hit Elon, 18-to-16.
Western Carolina (10-6), which saw its five-game seasonal win streak snapped with the loss, fought up-hill most of the day after falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning before the Catamounts would get on the board on an RBI single by Immanuel Wilder to score Prater in the bottom of the second. Elon stretched the margin to five with a second, three-run frame in the top of the fourth only to see the Catamounts plate five in the home half to tie the game at six.
The first three Catamounts reached in the home half of the fourth including singles by Jones and Justin Sparks before Wilder was plunked for the first of three times on the day. Jones scored on a wild pitch with Nanny plating two on a double to left center field. Nanny then scored on Bigbie’s second inside-the-park home run, sending a shot to center where Elon’s Tyler Stanley leaped, made the grab, but could not complete the catch as he crashed into the fence.
Elon (10-8) managed a third, three-run inning in the top of the fifth to reclaim its advantage, 9-6, capitalizing on two singles, three hit batters and a walk.
Koehler clawed WCU back to within one with a two-run homer that exited right center, 9-8, only to see Elon cash-in a one-out triple by Joe Satterfield ahead of a run-scoring single by Garrett Stonehouse. In the eighth, WCU took advantage of a pair of walks to Koehler and Bigbie with a wild pitch and Prater’s RBI single tying the game at 10.
However, Elon had the counterpunch in the top of the ninth as Stanley doubled, took third on a wild pitch, and scored the go-ahead marker on a second RBI single by Satterfield. Wilder scored on the aforementioned Koehler game-tying hit in the home portion of the final frame to force extras.
Elon scored the eventual game-winning unearned run as Adam Spurlin led-off with a walk, stole second, and eventually came home on a two-base wild pitch with obstruction ruled as he collided with Bigbie who was going after the loose baseball on the wild pitch.
A double-play reduced WCU’s chances for finding the equalizing marker in the home half of the 10th, but Jalen Jones wasn’t done. A two-out single through the left side had the freshman standing at first base before he swiped second before the infield dust had settled to put the game-extending tying run into scoring position. However, the Catamounts were all out of comebacks as Elon induced a game-ending fly ball to center, setting up Sunday’s series rubber match.
Reliever Chase Walter (1-3) was saddled with the loss despite matching a season-high with 6.0 innings pitched, fanning a season-best eight against four walks. The Peachtree City, Ga., native allowed three runs – only two of which were earned – on four hits. Redshirt senior starter Taylor Purus allowed nine runs on 12 hits over four innings, striking out three against a pair of walks.
Elon’s Ty Adcock (1-1), who started the game in right field, scored the victory in relief after tossing 2.2 innings, allowing an unearned run on just four hits. Starter George Kirby was lifted after four innings of work, surrendering six earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts.
Satterfield and Stonehouse both collected four hits apiece, combining for half of Elon’s 18 on the afternoon. Stonehouse drove in a team-high three with five Phoenix hitters tallying multi-hit outings.
The nonconference series concludes on Sunday afternoon with a 1:00 pm first pitch.