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Martin, Catamounts Walk-Off with 7-6 Win Saturday

Junior Jacob Hoyle finished 2-for-4 with a walk and a team-high three RBI in Saturday's home win over La Salle. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

March 1, 2014

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Senior catcher Adam Martin drove in the game-winning run on a RBI single to the gap in left center field in the bottom of the ninth inning as Western Carolina walked-off with a 7-6 victory over La Salle Saturday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

Game three of the series is scheduled for Sunday afternoon with a 1:00 pm first pitch. The series finale will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio (free) and video (subscription) through Catamount All-Access available online at Catamount

With two aboard in the form of Aaron Attaway at second after walking and Jacob Hoyle on first after a single, Martin worked a full-count before belting the eighth pitch he saw from La Salle reliever Adam Cherry into the gap in left center to allow Attaway to scamper home for the game-winning run.

Saturday's win represented the second one-run victory for the Catamounts so far this season and the first in walk-off fashion.

For a second-straight day, Western Carolina (6-2) had to rally to knock-off the upset-minded Explorers. The Catamounts trailed by as many as four runs after falling behind 3-0 after a Joey Ravert three-run home run in the top of the first inning. La Salle tacked on an insurance run in the top of the fifth as Ravert scored from second on a RBI single by Mark Williams.

WCU, which had been limited to one hit through the first four frames, got on track in the bottom of the fifth inning. Senior Luke Gragg opened things with a single through the left side ahead of classmate Dykota Spiess who belted his team-leading fourth double of the season to bring home Gragg and put the Catamounts on the board. A third senior, Taylor Sandefur, put two aboard after drawing a walk before Reece Strong, looking to lay down a sacrifice bunt, reached on an error to load the bases with no outs.

Three batters and two outs later, senior Aaron Attaway turned the carousel one notch, drawing a RBI on a four-pitch walk with Jacob Hoyle walking after a seven-pitch at bat to drive in the third run of the frame, trimming La Salle's lead to one, 4-3.

Still trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Catamounts rallied to take their first lead of the afternoon. Junior Bradley Strong sharply singled to first base to represent the game-tying run. He then promptly stole second to move into scoring position where Cody Jones sacrificed him over to third. Then, with the infield drawn in, Attaway scorched an infield single that was simply knocked down by the third baseman. Friday night's hero, Hoyle, then delivered another big hit, driving in two runs on a double off the center field fence to push WCU ahead, 5-4. The next batter, Martin, singled to right center to allow Hoyle to rumble home for an insurance run at 6-4.

However, La Salle rallied in the top of the ninth inning, loading the bases with a single, error and walk with two runs coming home on a pair of wild pitches to tie the game at six, setting up Martin's heroics in the bottom of the frame.

Sandefur led three Catamounts with two-hit games. The Mechanicsville, Va., product finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored to lead WCU while Hoyle (2-for-4) and Martin (2-for-5) both added two-hit performances. Attaway finished 1-for-2 with a team-high two runs scored, drawing three walks.

Catamount starter Jordan Smith factored in the no-decision, surrendering four runs on 12 hits through five and two-thirds innings. The Liberty, N.C., product struck out six batters including four looking. The seventh different WCU reliever to toe the rubber, freshman Bryan Sammons (2-0) scored the victory, tossing the final two thirds of an inning in the top of the ninth. Sammons recorded his lone strikeout to strand what represented the go-ahead run for La Salle at third base.

In between, relievers Jonathan Waszak, Alex Barr and Colton Davis were effective in securing outs. Waszak worked an inning and a third out of the pen, walking one with just one hit allowed, while Barr got the one batter he was charged with retiring. Davis had been in line for the win after WCU's three-run seventh, tossing an inning of relief before allowing two runs - only one of which was earned - on a hit.

Explorer shortstop Kevin Baron finished 4-for-5 with a walk to pace La Salle while Cameron Johnson matched his four hits on a 4-for-6 showing. Ravert drove in three on a 2-for-3 showing at the plate with Mark Williams also collecting two hits in the loss.

Cherry (0-1) was saddled with the loss, officially tossing a third of an inning while facing four Catamount batters out of the bullpen. Starter Shane Hollman kept the Catamounts at bay through 4.2 innings, striking out four before walks started to pile up, issuing five in the start. Hollman limited the potent WCU lineup to three runs - only one of which was earned - on just three base hits.

La Salle out-hit WCU 15-to-10 on Saturday, but stranded 15 runners while WCU left nine on the base paths.

Game three of the series is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Sunday.