March 3, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina (7-3) pounded out a heavy offensive performance scoring 22 runs to defeat Iona (2-7) in the second game of the three-game weekend series. The Catamounts also saw a strong pitching performance by starter Morgan McKinneywho picked up the win giving up only one hit, a solo homerun in the second.
Sophomore infielder Aaron Attawaygave the Catamounts a boost offensively with his career-high five doubles. Attaway improved his batting average .78 points on the day as the Morganton, N.C. native, began the day hitting .400, but his 6-for-6 outing improved his average to a now team-leading .478. Attaway picked up six RBI, crossing the plate five times on his own, being directly involved in half of the team's 22 runs.
"Attaway's been playing a great short stop for us number one," said Head Coach Bobby Moranda on the play of Aaron Attaway. "As our lead off man, he's our catalyst. As he goes, we go. He's had a great week for us against Georgia and now Iona. He had a special, special day for us. You also have to give Morgan (McKinney) credit. He battled through a tough start where he wasn't as sharp as he needs to be, but the runs definitely helped to settle him down."
The Catamounts scored early and often as the Catamounts got on the board first in the first inning. Attaway led things off for WCU with his only non-double hit of the day, a single to center field. He then stole second to bring himself into scoring position. Ross Heffley earned a trip to first being hit by Iona starter John Daddino. A Jacob Hoylesingle scored Attaway from second and also brought in Heffley due to an error by the Gael left fielder.
The first inning set the tone for the Catamounts offensively as the Purple and Gold went on to score in every inning.
In the top of the second, Iona got as close as it would all day as Chiaravalloti homered to right field off of McKinney bringing the Gaels within one. A sacrifice fly by Iona catcher James Beck would bring in the only other run for Iona in the bottom of the third.
WCU picked up five runs in the third starting with a two RBI home run by Catamount center fielder Cody Jones, his first of the season, which also brought in catcher Adam Martin who walked. After walking the next batter, Daddino was replaced by Matt Marley. Bradley Strong added a single before Aaron Attaway hit a double that brought in Gragg and Strong. A wild pitch put Attaway on third before Ross Heffleyreached first on an error, scoring Attaway.
The Catamounts added seven more runs in the sixth, batting around in the order. A pinch hit single by Austin Neary down the left field line scored Cody Jones. Attaway then doubled again scoring Gragg and Neary. Julian Ridings then singled to right putting Attaway on third for Ross Heffley who picked up his second RBI of the game with a SAC fly to deep center field. Next, Garrett Brown continued the scoring belting a single down the right field line scoring Ridings. Pinch hitter Connor Andrus hit one of the Catamounts seven doubles to score the swift-footed Brown from first base. One more double by WCU's Bryant Noteboomwould score the last of the seven runs from the sixth inning.
Western Carolina then used four relievers - Darren Dotson, Hunter Brister, Jeremy Sluder and Andrew Blackwell-to close out the game. The relievers only gave up two hits in their three innings of work.
The 22 runs are the most for the Catamounts since scoring 25 at home against Wofford a season ago on April 24, 2011. WCU won that game 25-14.
Both teams return to Childress Field at Hennon Stadium tomorrow with first pitch slated for 1 pm. Both teams will put freshmen pitchers on the mound as right-handed pitcher Jeremy Null (1-0, 8.59 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Catamounts with the Gaels throwing the left-handed John Nargoski (1-0, 2.00 ERA).