Feb. 15, 2013
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Sophomore RHP Jeremy Nullheld the Washington State Cougars to just two runs in seven innings pitched with a career-high 13 strike outs to lead the Catamounts to its first victory of 2013, an 8-5 win on opening day at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, Western Carolina cranked out five runs to jump out to a 6-2 lead over the visiting Cougars. The rally began with RF Cody Jones hitting a one-out single up the middle of the infield as the next batter - Bradley Strong - came up big with a double that moved Jones to third. Strong's middle-infield partner Aaron Attaway sliced a single to right center which scored Jones. Third baseman Tyler White then stepped up and hit a monster two-run HR over the left field fence on a 3-1 count to give the Catamounts the 6-2 advantage going into the sixth inning.
Null gave the Catamounts two more scoreless innings -while the Catamounts tacked on their seventh run in the bottom of the sixth off another RBI single by Attaway - before handing the baton off to Hunter Brister who started the eighth inning for WCU. Brister put two on with a walk and single but then got WSU's Monda to fly out to left. With two outs and runners on first and second, the Cougar designated hitter Yale Rosen hit a 3-run home run to bring Washington State within two, down 5-7.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning, WCU got an insurance run as Cody Jones scored on an error by Cougar LF Ben Roberts.
Third Team All-America selection Preston Hatcher received the nod to close things out for the Catamounts as the right-handed slinger tallied a fly out, a strike out and a ground out to seal the win for the Catamounts and earn his first save of the season.
Washington State's Yale Rosen went 3-for-4 in the game with four RBI, breaking the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth with a single down the right field line to give the Cougars the opening advantage. First basemen Brett Jacobs also brought in a run in the fourth as his SAC bunt scored Tanielu to put WSU ahead 2-0 in the fourth. The Catamounts answered to get within one in the bottom of the fourth with sophomore Jacob Hoyle scoring Austin Neary who reached on a double, the Catamounts' first extra-base hit of the season.
Null - who logged a previous career-high eight strike outs twice a season ago including tossing eight in his collegiate debut - walked just one Cougar and was the first Catamount to throw 13 strikeouts since March 25, 2011, when Matt Benedict also fanned 13 against the Davidson Wildcats. In 2012, only two Catamounts recorded double-digit strikeouts. Sunday afternoon's starter Morgan McKinney was the most recent with 10 on March 31, 2012 against Davidson while Saturday's starter Jordan Smith threw 11 against UNCG on March 24. As a staff, the Catamount pitchers threw 15 K's (Null-13, Brister-1, Hatcher-1) topping the season-high 13 from 2012.
Western Carolina returns to the diamond for the second game of the three-game series with the Cougars as junior RHP Jordan Smith faces off against sophomore LHP Joe Pistorese. Both pitchers totaled four wins in 2012, as Smith had a 3.48 ERA compared to Pistorese's 2.44 ERA. Saturday's game is slated for a 2 p.m. first pitch.