Feb. 18, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Four multiple run innings and a solid freshman debut by Jeremy Null led to the Catamounts (3-0) sweeping Fordham (0-3) in the 2012 season opening series. Null pitched 5.1 innings giving up three runs - two of them earned - on only one Ram hit. Null also dealt eight strikeouts to go along with three walks. Offensively, first baseman Tyler White went 3-for-4 from the plate with four RBI.
"We were expecting that out of Jeremy Null," commented head coach Bobby Moranda. "It didn't surprise me. He can pitch. He's a very solid pitcher. He has command over three pitches. He did a very good job with his breaking ball today and he competed."
The Catamounts jumped on Fordham early, picking up seven runs in the first three innings of play, giving the young righty a 7-0 cushion. Fordham got on the board in the fifth off of a Catamount error, before Null retired the side. Western Carolina picked up two additional runs in the fifth from a Tyler White single whiched scored Dykota Spiess. Spiess was aboard second from his double earlier in the inning. White scored later in the inning when freshman catcher Connor Andrus singled.
In the top of the sixth, Null struck out the first batter he faced before giving up two straight walks to the Rams. Skipper Bobby Moranda went to his bullpen, bringing in reliever Adam Curtis. A fielder's choice by Swatek put runners on the corners with two outs. Following a Curtis walk, Fordham third baseman Brian Kownacki belted a base-clearing double, forcing Moranda to bring in pitcher Andrew Blackwell. Blackwell gave up a single to the first batter he faced, allowing the Rams to score their fourth and final run of the inning.
The game remained the same until the top of the eighth when Fordham again made a run at the Catamounts' 9-5 lead. A single and a walk brought in pitcher Jeremy Sluder. Sluder quickly picked up a strikeout from Fordham catcher Zach Small who struckout looking. Kownacki then popped up to centerfield, giving Western two outs. Fordham would then pinch hit Brendan Maghini causing Moranda to bring in Garrett Brister. One more Ram run would score off of a single by Brendan Maghini before Preston Hatcher would come in to pitch and end the inning for Western Carolina. Fordham added three runs in the eighth on three hits and an error.
Western Carolina added a few runs of its own in the eighth, as Ross Heffley, Jacob Hoyle and Dykota Spiess all crossed the dish for the Catamounts, making it a 12-8 game in favor of the Purple and Gold.
Fordham would not go away quietly as catcher Zach Small hit a double to deep centerfield scoring Tim Swatek who walked in the inning. Hatcher finished off the Rams and earned his first save of the season with a strike out and an infield ground out.
"Any time you sweep someone at the Division I level, it's a great thing. Our goal was to get the sweep and we achieved our goal," continued Moranda. "We have a lot to work on. We had two games where we were up big and let them get back in the game so we need to learn from that, understand how that happened and correct it. If we do that, we can be a pretty good team."
Western Carolina travels to Rock Hill, S.C. to take on Winthrop University Tuesday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 4:00 pm. The game is slated to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with air time at 3:45 pm.