Feb. 19, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. - Five early runs helped catapult Western Carolina past the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs Friday afternoon, 14-9, in the 2010 season opener at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium.
The Catamounts (1-0) opened the first inning with an Austin Schultz two-run homer before Gardner-Webb (0-1) answered with a two run rally in the top of second inning. WCU then capitalized on two Bulldog errors in the bottom of the frame to take a 5-2 advantage. The Catamounts never relinquished the lead, scoring at least one run in the final five frames. In total, six Catamounts tallied multi-hit games, including a trio with multi-RBI. Overall, the Cats used a combination of six extra-base hits, four stolen bases and 13 total hits to snag the victory.
"It was great to get out there and play," said Catamount head coach Bobby Moranda. "The offense was able to string together some critical hits up the middle. There is obviously some stuff we need to work on, but this is a good start to the season."
The round-tripper by Shultz happened in his first at-bat as a Catamount. Schultz added another pair of RBI after ripping a single to center field in the second. The transfer from Young Harris College went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and four RBI. Senior Stephen Notaro also got into the homerun race with a two-bomber in the sixth inning. Notaro went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBI and two walks.
Right-hander Jason Sullivan (1-0) earned the victory after fanning a career-high nine Bulldogs in five and one third innings. Sullivan, a senior from Shelbyville, Indiana, allowed four earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks in the win.
"I thought Jason gave us a solid five innings today and helped us stay ahead in this game," noted Moranda.
Right-hander Matt Benedict came on in relief, giving up one run on two hits with a pair of strikeouts in an inning and two thirds of work. Brandon Johnson and Daniel Ottone closed the final two frames, allowing two earned runs on four hits with two strikeouts.
Senior Tyler Kirkpatrick hit 2-for-5 with a run scored and brought home two Catamounts with his double up the middle in the eighth inning to extend WCU's score to 14-7. Junior transfer Cameron Dullnig capitalized in the nine hole with a 2-for-3 evening and two runs scored.
Senior Dylan de Graaf tallied a team-high four runs, after a 2-for-3 evening, a RBI and two walks. Ross Heffley and Matt Johns rounded out the multi-hit parade for the Catamounts with a pair of hits each.
Gardner-Webb rallied to tie the game, 2-2, in the second after a solo home run by first baseman Josh Drewery and an unearned run scored by second baseman Daniel Merck. WCU then answered with six consecutive runs scored. A three-run second inning was capped with a pair of runs scored by Dullnig and de Graaf. Gardner-Webb added four runs in the top of the sixth before tallying another three in the final two innings. In total, GWU committed four errors that resulted in four unearned runs.
Gardner-Webb's O.J. McFarland led the squad with a 2-for-4 and two RBI performance. Drewery and Zeke Blanton also corralled a pair of hits in the contest.
Western Carolina and Gardner-Webb will play the remainder of this weekend's series at McNair Field in Forest City, N.C. Sophomore right-hander Kyle Stewart is scheduled starter for Saturday's 2:00 p.m. contest. For more information about McNair Field and directions to the stadium, visit www.forestcitybaseball.com.