Feb. 22, 2014
Pullman, Wash. - Western Carolina rallied from a two-run deficit after two innings of play with a three-spot in the top of the third inning and held on for an 8-6 victory over Washington State on a snowy Saturday afternoon at Bailey-Brayton Field.
Game three of the four-game series is scheduled for Noon PT / 3:00 pm ET on Sunday afternoon.
Junior infielder Bradley Strong and senior catcher Adam Martin both posted multiple hit games, combining for four of WCU's nine base hits including a double by Martin with Strong scoring twice. Strong was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and a pair of walks.
Catamount starter Jordan Smith (1-1) fought through six innings on the mound in the winning effort, working around four walks. The Liberty, N.C., native held Washington State to five runs - only three of which were earned - on seven base hits. Smith was the first if six pitchers used by WCU.
Relievers Bryce Danielson (0.2 IP), Jonathan Wazak (1.0 IP) combined with freshmen B.J. Nobles and Nate Williams each came out of the bullpen to set-up closer, Colton Davis, who tossed the final inning and a third with a strikeout. Wazak tallied WCU's first strikeout of the game in the eighth inning with Davis scoring a second to end the eighth.
Western Carolina (4-2) got off to a strong start as lead-off batter Bradley Strong tripled to center field on the first pitch of the game before scoring the game's first run two pitches later as Jones grounded one off the first baseman's glove on the right side, reaching on a fielding error by the second baseman. Jacob Hoyle then delivered his sixth RBI of the series with a run-scoring single to left field ahead of Adam Martin who doubled down the right field line to bring home a third run.
The Catamount advantage was short-lived, though, as Washington State matched the three-run start in their half of the first inning, utilizing three hits, a hit batsman and a WCU error. Designated hitter Jason Monda drove in the game-tying run on a single to center field which came on the heels of the Catamounts' fourth turned double-play of the series.
An inning later, the Cougars took their first lead of the series, pulling ahead on a Trace Tam Sing RBI single through the left side to score Ben Roberts who walked to open the frame. WSU added a second run to its lead as Nick Tanielu doubled to center field, scoring Tam Sing for the 5-3 advantage.
Western Carolina reclaimed control in the top of the third, however, as Aaron Attaway and Martin both singled before Luke Gragg dropped a RBI single into right center to bring Attaway home. Spiess followed his classmate Gragg with a single to right center for a second run with freshman Matt Smith plating a third - and go-ahead - run by reaching on fielder's choice on a force-play at second with Gragg scoring.
WCU tacked on insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Bradley Strong walked and later scored on a fielder's choice by Attaway in the fourth with Dale Urquhart Jr., doubling to left center on his first pinch hit at bat where Strong moved him to third on a sacrifice bunt. Urquhart rumbled home on a wild pitch, handing the Catamounts a three-run, 8-5, lead with three innings to play.
Washington State (1-5) threatened in the latter innings, putting runners at the corners in the seventh without scoring. In the eighth, the Cougars trimmed the WCU lead to two, 8-6, before loading the bases with two outs. However, WCU closer Colton Davis slammed the door with a strikeout as a part of four-straight outs, retiring the Cougar side in order in the ninth for his first career save.
Though the hits shown even on the scoreboard, Washington State stranded 13 runners in the losing effort while WCU left just five men on base.
Washington State starter Tanner Chleborad (0-1) took the loss after allowing seven runs - five of which were earned - on seven hits with four strikeouts against three walks. Chleborad worked the first four frames before giving way to reliever Joe Pistorese for the final five. The left-handed reliever struck out six while holding WCU to one run on two hits including Urquhart's double.
Offensively, the Cougars were led by Tanielu with a 2-for-5 performance including a double and two RBI while Trek Stemp charted a pair of singles in a 2-for-6 outing.