March 5, 2011
Forest City, N.C. - Western Carolina plated two runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally past the Akron Zips on Friday afternoon in the Catamounts' first of three tournament games at McNair Field. WCU senior Stephen Notaro singled home Ross Heffley to tie the game at eight before freshman Aaron Attaway drove in the game winning run one batter later in the 9-8 victory.
Heffley singled with one out before later stealing second after the second out was recorded on a strikeout. Heffley eventually moved to third on a wild pitch with sophomore Tyler White walking to put runners at the corners. Notaro then laced a 1-0 pitch up the middle to plate Heffley, knotting the game at eight apiece. A second wild pitch of the inning moved White to third and Notaro to second where Attaway singled up the middle to score the go-ahead run in the form of White.
Due to the impending threat of inclement weather over the weekend, WCU officials have altered the schedule for the weekend. The Catamounts will face both Ohio State and Army on Saturday beginning with the Buckeyes at 11:00 am and the Black Knights at 3:00 pm. The abbreviated weekend schedule is now slated to include a Saturday night cap of Ohio State against Akron at 7:00 pm.
Senior reliever Brandon Johnson (3-0) picked up the win after tossing the final inning and a half out of the bullpen, entering the game with WCU trailing 8-7. Johnson threw 10 pitches, recording a pop-up out and inducing three-straight ground ball outs in the ninth to earn the victory for the Catamounts.
Ross Heffley led four Catamounts with multi-hit games with a 3-for-5 performance including a triple and two runs driven in and three runs scored. Notaro and junior Cameron Dullnig were both 2-for-4 with Notaro driving in a pair while Attaway finished 2-for-5 with the winning RBI.
Sophomore Taylor Sandefur allowed six runs on four hits through three innings in the start for WCU before giving way to junior Andrew Blackwell who gave up a run on two hits through an inning and a third. Four Catamount relievers then combined to hold Akron scoreless through the final four and two-thirds, limiting the Zips to two hits and pitching around four walks. Kyle Stewart struck out two in two innings of work out of the pen for WCU.
Western Carolina (7-3) took an early 2-0 lead in the home half of the first inning as Dullnig drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Johns singled to right to drive in the game's first run, 1-0, WCU. Heffley gave the Catamounts a 2-0 lead when he touched home on an RBI ground out by White, who is playing this weekend in his hometown.
Akron cut the WCU lead in half with a run in the visitor's portion of the second on an RBI ground out before seizing the lead with a five-run top of the fifth inning. Back-to-back triples by the Zips' Drew Turocy and Samuel Trecasco drove in the first two-runs of the frame handing Akron its first lead of the game before a three-run home run by Sam Watkins capped the five-run rally.
The Catamounts answered in the bottom of the third as Notaro grounded out with the bases loaded allowing Heffley to scamper home to close within three, 6-3.
Akron (1-7) added a run in the top of the fifth as Brandon White homered to left field, stretching Akron's advantage back to four, 7-3.
WCU came back in the home half of the sixth inning to tie the game at seven, coming predominantly with two outs. Notaro opened the frame with a double to left field before back-to-back outs threatened waste the extra base hits. Cody Jones then singled up the middle to put runners at the corners ahead of Schultz who's single to right center plated Notaro. Heffley then drove a 2-0 pitch down the right field line for a two-RBI triple to score two runs.