Feb. 16, 2013
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina's offense scored in bunches as the Catamounts used four multi-run innings, scoring six unearned runs on seven Washington State errors to outscore the Cougars 15-10 on a snowy Saturday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Up 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth, the Catamounts put Cody Jones on first to get the inning started. Jones laid down a bunt that was fielded by the pitcher, but the WSU first baseman could not squeeze the throw, dropping the ball and leading to the Cougars' first of three errors in the inning.
A Danny Bermudez walk loaded the bases for second baseman Bradley Strong. Strong lifted the first pitch to deep center field, scoring Jones from third. Aaron Attaway cleared the bases with a 2-RBI double to center field to bring in Bermudez and Spiess. The two out scoring continued as senior third baseman Tyler White knocked in Attaway with a single to center which moved Julian Ridings to second. Two consecutive wild pitches brought in Julian Ridings for another Catamount run and putting White on third. Following an Austin Neary walk, Cody Jones again returned to the plate. Jones hit a roller between the second and first baseman which was fielded by the second baseman. After waiting for the pitcher to cover, the WSU infielder threw an errant throw under the glove of the covering pitcher, scoring the sixth and final run of the inning for WCU, Tyler White.
Going into the top of the fifth, starting Catamount pitcher Jordan Smith had only given up one run - which came in the second. With an 8 to 2 lead, Smith gave up four runs - off an RBI fielder's choice by Austin Pernell and a three-run HR by Michael Monda - in the fifth to bring the Cougars within two, down 8-5. The fifth would be the last inning of work for Smith who went 5.0 innings, giving up five earned runs on four strike outs and four walks.
From there, the Catamounts used six pitchers to fend off the Cougars. In the top of the sixth, senior RHP Taylor Sandefur entered the game with the bases loaded and the Cougars threatening with light snow beginning to fall at Hennon Stadium. Sandefur quickly got ahead in the count, 1-2, before causing pinch hitter Patrick McGrath to fly out to left field to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the WCU half of the sixth, the Purple and Gold tacked on four more runs, three of them coming from a hard-hit, 2-run home run over the center field fence - hitting HRs in consecutive games - by Tyler White. White finished the game with 3 RBI. Jacob Hoyle - who entered the game in the bottom of the fourth to take the DH spot - hit a double to the left-center gap to score Austin Neary. Hoyle went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI in his limited action. Dykota Spiess added another run for the Catamounts with his single to right field which scored Hoyle.
With the need to get runs on the board quickly, Washington State did not go away. With the bases loaded with freshman LHP Alex Barr on the mound, Cougar left fielder Ben Roberts ripped a line drive home run down the right field line to make the score 12-9.
WSU again threatened in the top of the eighth with two runners on and two outs before WCU closer Preston Hatcher was brought in. Hatcher immediately struck out DH Yale Rosen on five pitches to end the potential rally.
The Catamounts added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Another WSU error put Austin Neary on base with an out. Cody Jones hit a single through the left side of the infield with a 1-2 count to put two runners on. After a WSU pitching change, Hoyle again came up big for the Catamounts, hitting a single to right field which score Neary and put Jones on third. A wild pitch then scored Jones and put Hoyle on second. Freshman catcher Danny Bermudez then hit a shot up the middle - his first hit of the day - to score Hoyle from second and bring the WCU run total to three for the inning heading to the ninth.
Though down 15-9 in the final stanza, the Cougars were not done. The first batter Hatcher faced was WSU's Adam Nelubowich who promptly hit a towering home run over the right field fence. As the snow began to come down more heavily, Hatcher went to work picking up consecutive strikes outs and getting pinch hitter J.J. Robinson to ground out to first baseman Austin Neary to end the game.
In the first two games of the season, the Catamount offense has put up 23 total runs while putting up a team batting average of .293.
The final game of the 2013 opening series will begin Sunday at different-than-originally-announced time of 2:00 p.m. Western Carolina will throw LHP Morgan McKinney on Sunday against Washington State's Scott Simon (2012 Stats: 4.09 ERA, 2-3). McKinney matched a team-high six wins in 2012 and is the 2013 recipient of the Leggett No.7 Legacy.
For live GameTracker (free) and a live-stream through Catamount All-Access (subscription) of Sunday's series finale, check out CatamountSports.com. The Catamount Sports Network will also provide live audio (free) through Stretch Internet on CatamountSports.com.