Feb. 17, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Washington State rallied from a one-run deficit with three runs in the top of the seventh inning as Nick Tanielu delivered a two-RBI double down the left field line that proved to be the game-winner as the Cougars downed Western Carolina, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The Catamounts won the three-game set despite Sunday's home loss.
WCU broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth inning with a leadoff double to right center field by junior Julian Ridings. A wild pitch advanced the Shelby, N.C., native further into scoring position at third ahead of team RBI leader, Tyler White. The senior put the Catamounts on the board with a deep drive sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Ridings to trot home for the 1-0 lead.
The Catamounts worked in-and-out of jams much of the ball game - stranding nine Cougar runners on the afternoon. However, the home squad ran into trouble in the seventh inning as WSU's Trace Tam Sing doubled down the left field line to lead-off the frame. Catamount starter Morgan McKinney struck out Ben Roberts, but a passed ball allowed Roberts to scamper to first to put two aboard ahead of Trek Stemp who drove in the game-tying run off the first pitch from freshman reliever Colton Davis.
Stemp finished 3-for-4 at the plate, pacing four Cougars with multi-hit games. Tanielu drove in two on a 2-for-5 showing including the big double.
Piecing the remainder of the inning together with situational pitching, Bobby Moranda called up reliever Bryce Danielson who struck out Jason Monda for the second out of the inning. WCU looked to get out of the frame as reliever Tyler Powell worked ahead 1-2 on Tanielu before he doubled to left, plating two runs before being thrown out at third trying to advance. Once the dust settled, though, the Cougars had all the run support they'd need, leading 3-1.
The Cougar bullpen took over, retiring the final 12 Catamounts in order after a lead-off walk. Kyle Swannack (1-0) earned the victory in relief, coming on to pitch a perfect sixth inning with a strikeout. In his debut on the mound, Monda fanned three in his inning of work with J.D. Leckenby earning the save, fanning one in the final inning of work.
Combined, four relievers out of the WSU bullpen worked the final four innings perfectly with all seven strikeouts. The Catamounts were held to just four base hits in the loss, the fewest hits in a game since last year's SoCon tournament against Samford as the Bulldogs posted a four-hit shutout.
Washington State (1-2) added an insurance run in the eighth as Brent Jacobs was plunked by a pitch and later scored on a failed pick-off attempt at third to provide the final tally.
McKinney (0-1) took the loss for WCU, surrendering two runs - only one of which was earned - on eight hits with six strikeouts and a walk through six innings. Davis allowed a run in his collegiate debut, as did Powell who tossed two innings of relief with a career-high four strikeouts. Rookie Jonathan Waszak also made his first collegiate appearance, getting the final out in the top of the ninth for the Catamounts. WCU finished with 11 combined K's.
Western Carolina (2-1) is scheduled to host Wake Forest at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 4:00 pm.
Western Carolina vs. Washington State - Series Notes:
- Western Carolina won its opening-day game for the fifth-straight season under head coach Bobby Moranda, downing the Cougars 8-5 in the opener ... Coupled with Saturday's 15-10 win, the Catamounts claimed their seventh-straight season opening weekend series;
- WCU improved to 5-3 all-time against teams from the Pac-12, winning its second, three-game series all-time against current league members ... WCU is 2-1 all-time; 2-1 vs. Washington State; 2-1 vs. USC; 1-0 vs. Stanford; 0-1 vs. Arizona State;
- With two saves on the weekend, WCU reliever Preston Hatcher now has 12 saves in his WCU career, moving into sole possession of seventh place on WCU's career pitching charts.