Feb. 25, 2012
Greenville, N.C. - Playing twice on Saturday after Friday's opening day was postponed by inclement weather, Western Carolina dropped two close games in a full day of baseball at Clark-LeClair Stadium in the Ninth-Annual Keith LeClair Classic.
The Catamounts committed three costly errors in the tournament opener, falling to Maryland 3-0, before surrendering a three-run sixth to East Carolina in dropping a 3-1 decision to the Pirates on Saturday afternoon.
WCU concludes play on Sunday morning by facing the Purdue Boilermakers (4-1) with first pitch at 10:00 am. Purdue split its two games on Saturday, downing the host Pirates 6-4 before falling to Maryland, 11-1, in the final game of the day.
Western Carolina (4-2) received two solid pitching starts from hurlers Jordan Smith (0-1) and Morgan McKinney (1-1) in the two games, but was unable to muster enough offense to secure wins. Smith scattered three base hits through seven innings, only allowing two unearned runs in the opener against Maryland. The Liberty, N.C., native struck out three against three walks. McKinney pitched around nine base hits by the Pirates, fanning three in six innings of work.
But it was the Catamount offense - which entered the weekend averaging just over 14 hits through its first four games - that was held in check, limited to just four hits in both games.
In the opener, Maryland scored two unearned runs in the second inning, adding an insurance run in the ninth to win, 3-0. A throwing error at short put the lead-off man, Kyle Convissar, aboard before back-to-back walks to Ryan Holland on nine pitches and Jordan Hagel loaded the bases. A fielder's choice on a force play at second scored the first run, with a throwing error by Smith on a bunt attempt allowed the second run to score.
WCU got out of the frame after just the two runs by turning a double-play as Tyler White fielded and threw to Aaron Attaway at short who then threw home for a tag by Adam Martin to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, the Catamounts threatened as Martin drew a two-out walk, stole second but was gunned down at home on a single up the middle by White to remain scoreless. Western Carolina got off to a strong start in the bottom of the fifth inning as Martin led off with a double to left, moving to third on a fly ball out. However, a strikeout and ground out again kept the Catamounts off the scoreboard.
Maryland added an insurance run in the top of the ninth as a wild pitch allowed Convissar to score from third and a 3-0 lead.
Terrapin starter Brady Kirkpatrick (1-0) limited the Catamounts to four hits in seven and a third innings, striking out five against two walks. Jimmy Reed worked the final inning and two thirds of hitless, scoreless relief to score his second save of the year.
In WCU's second game, East Carolina erased the Catamounts one-run lead with a three-spot in the home half of the sixth to win, 3-1. Three-straight, two-out singles and a two-run double gave the Pirates all the runs it would need for the win.
Western Carolina took the early lead in the top of the second inning as freshman Jacob Hoyle doubled down the right field line on the first pitch of the frame and moved to second on an infield ground out. Martin then lifted a fly ball to center field to plate Hoyle on the sacrifice fly for the 1-0 lead.
Trailing 3-1 entering the top of the ninth, the Catamounts again threatened by putting two on with two outs with runners at second and third after a Ross Heffley walk and Hoyle single and error. However, WCU could not get the critical hit in the final frame.
First baseman Tyler White led Western Carolina with three hits including a double on the day with a 3-for-7 showing at the plate. Hoyle added hits with a 2-for-3 showing against ECU.
Play in the Keith LeClair Classic concludes on Sunday with WCU facing Purdue at 10:00 am.