Greenville, N.C. - Sixteenth-ranked St. John's silenced Western Carolina's offense on Sunday afternoon as the Red Storm bounced back from its first loss of the year to hand the Catamounts their fourth-straight defeat, holding the Catamounts to just two base hits in a 9-1 decision at the 14th annual Keith LeClair Classic at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Western Carolina trailed by just three, 4-1, entering the final frame, but for a third-time at the tournament, the Catamounts struggled to finish. St. John's tacked on five runs in the top of the ninth inning that blew open the three-run affair as the Johnnies pushed the game out of reach.
Redshirt sophomore Matthew Koehler (1-for-4) and senior Matt Smith (1-for-3) collected the only two hits for the Catamounts on Sunday with Smith also reaching on a fourth-inning walk. WCU was held hitless through five and a third innings before a one-out single through the right side by Koehler in the bottom of the sixth. Smith scored the lone marker for the Catamounts in the seventh, scampering home on one of two St. John's errors.
Sophomore starter Tristan Baker (0-1) suffered the loss despite tossing a career-long eight innings on Sunday. The Charlotte, N.C., native surrendered just four runs while scattering eight hits, walking two with a strikeout. Relievers Jake Moebius and Chad Mabini combined to finish the final frame with the duo tagged for five runs, three earned in the ninth.
Falling behind 1-0 after the top of the first inning, WCU twice put two runners aboard in the first four frames, doing so in the third and fourth innings, but were unable to push across the equalizing marker. A solo run in the top of the fifth and a two-run homer in the top of the sixth pushed St. John's ahead, 4-0, through six complete.
The Catamounts managed to get on the board in the home half of the seventh inning. Smith led-off with a sharp single up the middle before moving to second on a Caleb Robinson ground out and third on a fly ball out by Luke Robinson. Second baseman Nobu Suzuki then reached on a Red Storm throwing error allowing Smith to score what proved to be WCU's only run.
St. John's had three players post multi-hit games with Josh Shaw driving in four including a RBI single in the first inning, a two-run home run in the sixth, and a sacrifice fly in the five-run ninth. Robbie Knightes singled twice in a 2-for-4 showing, scoring twice, while Anthony Brocato scored three runs, twice reaching on walks and adding a double.
For St. John's (10-1), starter Ryan McAuliffe (2-0) scored the win after limiting WCU to one unearned run on just two singles, countering a pair of walks with seven strikeouts. Reliever David Moyer picked up the save, entering the game with a three-run margin and tossing two hitless, scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Western Carolina (4-6) continues its eight-game road swing on Monday as it travels to Raleigh to face the 10th-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-5) at Doak Field at Dail Park. Fans can follow Monday's game on ACC Network Extra online or listen in with live audio available at www.GoPack.com.