March 2, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. -
Sophomore pitcher Jordan Smith hurled 7.1 scoreless innings to lead the Catamounts over Iona in the first of a three game series. Bryant Noteboom and Jacob Hoyle added RBI in consecutive innings to provide the only scoring in the opener. The Catamounts improved to 6-3 while Iona fell to 2-6 on the year.
Smith gave up six hits while throwing five strikeouts to only three walks to pick up his first win of 2012.
Western Carolina scored first in the bottom of the fifth inning. Freshman Dale Urquhart ignited the offense with a leadoff double to center field. Cody Jones advanced Urquhart to third with a first pitch single down the right field line. Sitting on the wrong side of a 0-2 count, Bryant Noteboom poked a single into right field, scoring Urquhart.
In the bottom of the sixth with a full count, second baseman Ross Heffley roped a double to left-center to begin the inning. Heffley then stole third, picking up his third stolen base of the year. Heffley is a perfect 3-3 on stolen base attempts. Jacob Hoyle’s long flyball to left field scored Heffley from third. The freshman now has a team-leading 14 RBI.
The rest of the game would be about the pitching of Smith and junior reliever Preston Hatcher. Smith stayed mostly out of trouble until the top of the eighth. After giving up a single and a walk with one out, Head Coach and Pitching Coach Bobby Moranda decided to go with the righty, Preston Hatcher. Hatcher came in and immediately struck out Bobby Vitulano on four pitches. With Chris Burke working Hatcher to a full count, Burke then dribbled an infield single to load the bases for the Gaels. Hatcher got out of the inning by picking off Burke at first.
The Gaels continued to battle in the top of the ninth with two runners on for right fielder Joe Smith with one out. Hatcher struck out the Gael right fielder before causing Matt Hratko to ground out, ending the game. Hatcher picked up his team-leading third save.
“I thought we threw the ball outstanding today,” commented Head Coach Bobby Moranda. “Jordan (Smith) didn’t have his stuff early. He was behind in the count and he knew that. He was trying to find his mechanics. He made an adjustment, and he started finding it. He got his pitch count up and that’s why he was allowed to go that far. I really wanted him to get through the eighth, so that we’d only have to throw (Preston) Hatcher one inning, but all-in-all, Jordan was outstanding. It wasn’t like he had his absolute best stuff, but he found it as the game went on. That’s the sign of a great player.”
Game two is set to begin Saturday at 2 pm, weather permitting. Probable starting pitchers for tomorrow will be Catamount redshirt junior Morgan McKinney (1-1, 3.00 ERA) to go up against the Gael’s John Daddino (0-1, 20.25 ERA). Live updates can be found on GameTracker accessed through CatamountSports.com.