Greensboro, N.C. – Western Carolina scored a season-high 24 runs on a season’s best 22 hits as eight Catamounts posted multiple-hit games as WCU scored in seven of the nine innings on Saturday afternoon to even the best-of-three, Southern Conference series with UNCG with a convincing 24-4 victory at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
Saturday’s victory – which snapped a seven-game slide for the Catamounts and was just the second home defeat for UNCG this spring – coupled with Friday night’s 7-5 loss to the Spartans sets up a series rubber match on Sunday afternoon with first pitch set for 1:00 pm.
Saturday marked the first time that WCU had scored 20-or-more runs in a game since plating 21 in a home win over Savannah State back on April 25, 2017 – and the first time WCU had hit the 20-run mark against a SoCon opponent since scoring 21 at VMI on April 10, 2016. Saturday’s 24 runs were the most scored by the Catamounts since WCU hung 25 on Wofford in Cullowhee on April 24, 2011.
Redshirt senior Matthew Koehler paced the eight Catamounts with multi-hit games, finishing a triple shy of the cycle in a 4-for-6, five RBI performance. The Raleigh, N.C., product doubled twice and smacked a three-run home run to right in the fourth inning while the game still hung in the balance. Sophomore Justice Bigbie, who reached base five times in the win, drove in a team-best six with a pair of RBI doubles – one plating a pair of runs – and a three-run homer in the ninth inning. Bigbie also reached on a walk and a HBP in the winning effort.
Freshman Colin Bertsch, who came on defensively in the third inning, collected a career-best three hits including two doubles with a pair of RBI while Justin Sparks plated two in a 2-for-4, two-run performance to rank among WCU’s offensive highlights.
UNCG (17-8, 4-1 SoCon) grabbed the early lead in the home half of the first inning using a pair of one-out singles and a Catamount error to plate the game’s first run. The lead was short-lived, though, as the Catamount offense got cranking in the second inning as Will Prater led-off with a double to right field. Following a walk to Sparks, Immanuel Wilder, who scored three times in the win, dropped a single into right field to allow Prater to score with a throwing error allowing a second run to cross. Freshman Michael Goehrig drove in the first of his career-best three RBI on a sharp single to right center, pushing WCU in front, 3-2.
Goehrig posted the first multi-hit and multiple-RBI game of his Catamount career, coming in his ninth career game and fourth career start.
The Spartans got one of the runs back in the second inning, capitalizing on a fielder’s choice, a WCU error, and a wild pitch scoring a run to make it 3-2. It would be as close as the Spartans would get the remainder of the day.
Western Carolina (11-12, 1-4 SoCon) plated three runs in the fourth on Koehler’s fifth round-tripper of the season while hanging a five-spot on the scoreboard in the fifth with three doubles in the frame. After a scoreless sixth, WCU tacked on four in the seventh inning including Koehler’s second double that drove home two, and scored three in the eighth on run-scoring doubles by Bigbie and Luke Robinson.
The Catamounts capped the game with a five-run ninth against the UNCG bullpen as the first five batters reached, capped by Bigbie’s three-run homer to right field.
With the bats coming to life, the pitching staff followed suit in what was among the best overall team performances of the season, minus the three errors in the field. Taylor Purus (2-2) scored the victory out of the bullpen – his first relief appearance of the year – after Joe Vranesic opened the game with a strong two inning performance. Vranesic struck out one while allowing two runs – only one of which was earned – on three hits before handing off to Purus in the third. The Hudson, N.C., native struck out the first two batters he faced as a part of fanning six, scattering seven hits and a walk while limiting the Spartans to two runs, one earned.
Freshman Davis Tyndall tossed the final frame, working around a pair of walks in the hitless, scoreless ninth while benefiting from a second WCU double play. Tyndall induced a lazy fly ball out to center field where Bryson Parks made the catch before delivering a strike to third for the third out on an outfield assist as UNCG’s Austin Embler looked to tag and advance.
UNCG starter Jeremiah Triplett (2-2) was handed the loss, surrendering five runs – four earned – over 2.1 innings with two strikeouts and one walk. The Spartans used a combined seven different pitchers on Saturday, none tossing more than the 2.1 by Triplett though Jake Mayhew struck out three over a two-inning relief appearance.
The Spartans finished with 10 base hits on Saturday with three players posting two-hit outings against WCU. Josh Madole doubled with a RBI in a 2-for-5 performance while Caleb Webster and Coleman Sawyer both finished 2-for-3 with a run scored. David Flores tallied the only other extra base hit for UNCG with a double in a 1-for-4 performance.
Sunday’s series finale is slated to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio and live stats links available online at CatamountSports.com. UNCG’s video production on the SoCon Digital Network is also scheduled for Sunday’s game three.