Feb. 29, 2008
Conway, S.C. -
After jumping out to an early lead, the Western Carolina baseball team was unable to hold on and fell to the West Virginia Mountaineers, 8-7, in the opening game of the Baseball at the Beach tournament on Friday afternoon.
WVU's Chris Enuarato blooped a single to right field to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, completing the comeback for the Mountaineers, who were down by as many as four runs in the game.
Western Carolina (2-2) got on the board in the top of the first inning on junior J.C. Lyons' two-run home run over the wall in deep left center field to put the Cats up 2-0. It was Lyon's second homer of the season, and he has now scored at least one run in all four games on the year.
Senior left-hander Tyler Sexton came out strong in the home half of the inning, striking out the first batter he faced. He then got the next two batters to ground out and fly out after only one pitch, for a 1-2-3 opening of the afternoon, on. His efficiency continued to the second inning, where he only needed six pitches for three consecutive flyouts, brining his two-inning pitch total to 12.
The Cats opened the third inning with a picture-perfect bunt single by senior second baseman Jason Haynes, who dropped the ball in between the WVU right side infielders, then out running the pitcher to the bag. Sophomore Nick Liles then followed with a tailing fly ball down the right field line that dropped just fair for a double. WCU then made it three hits in a row with senior Barrett Shaft's line drive double just inside the foul line in left field, bringing home Haynes and Liles to put the Cats up 4-0.
In the bottom of the third, the Mountaineers broke through with three runs, started by Grant Buckner's single to center field, followed by a hit batter, and a double by Tyler Kuhn to clear the bases. Kuhn was then brought home on a long fly just out of the reach of WCU's Lyons in center field to bring the score to 4-3. Sexton was able to get the next batter to ground into an inning-ending double play, stopping the WVU rally.
WCU responded in the fourth inning, starting off with a pair of walks by sophomore Brent Greer
and freshman Ryan Mathews
. Greer was then brought home on a line drive single between first and second base by classmate Dylan de Graaf
to push the Catamount lead to 2, 5-3. The Cats then stretched their lead to 7-3 in the fifth inning, courtesy of senior Blake Murphy's
RBI double sandwiched between a pair of singles by Shaft and Lyons. Murphy just beat out the throw home to score on Lyon's hit that skirted out of the glove of the West Virginia second baseman. It was Lyon's third RBI of the game, and his team-leading eighth on the year.
West Virginia (3-2) struck in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs to tie the game at seven. Sophomore Chris Masters came on in relief with two outs and two men on base, ending the inning for WVU with a fly ball to shallow right field.
The Catamount bats went cold in the last half of the game, in which Western was held hitless from the sixth until the ninth inning, opening the door for West Virginia.
Sexton threw 5.2 innings on the day, striking out four and allowing six earned runs on nine hits, with no walks. Masters, who allowed one run in 2.2 innings while registering three strikeouts, was charged with his first loss of the season.
Lyons and Shaft led the Catamounts with two hits apiece, with Lyons now with a hit in each of the season's first four games. Liles' double also gives him at least one base hit in four consecutive games, and is tied for the team lead with seven hits total.
WCU will look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon when they take on the Patriots of George Mason University. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Charles Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field. Fans can follow Live Stats online at http://www.goccusports.com/?tournament=1.