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Western Carolina Outlasts Illinois, 4-2, in Keith LeClair Classic

March 6, 2010

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Greenville, N.C. - Western Carolina used 11 hits and had four Catamounts reach multi-hit games as WCU defeated Illinois, 4-2, in day two of the Keith LeClair Classic at Clark-LeClair Stadium. With the victory, the Catamounts improve to 8-1, continuing the program's best start in school history.

WCU (8-1) spread out the runs in four innings to dispose of the Fighting Illini who fell to 1-4 on the season. In total, Western Carolina out-numbered Illinois in the hit column, 11-to-7. The middle of the Catamount lineup proved to be lethal as the three through six hitters each collected a pair of hits.

Right-hander Kyle Stewart (1-0) picked up his first decision of the year by giving up only one run on three hits with six strikeouts in five innings pitched.

Senior Tyler Kirkpatrick continued his nine-game hit streak with a roped single to left field in the second inning, allowing freshman Tyler White to score the first run of the contest. Kirkpatrick, a senior third baseman, tallied his seventh multi-hit game of the year in the eighth inning with a single. Overall, Kirkpatrick hit 2-for-3 with an RBI and a reached on base after he was hit-by-pitch.

White earned his team-high fifth double of the season in the second inning as the freshman hit 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Designated hitter Trevor Collias sent a leadoff homerun to left field to give WCU a 2-0 lead after three innings. The long bomb was Collias' first of the season.

Catcher Ollie Goulder's double down the leftfield line drove in shortstop Austin Schultz to give Western Carolina a 3-1 lead.

In the fifth inning, Ross Heffley would widen the Catamount's advantage to 4-1 after scoring from an Illinois throwing error. Heffley, a sophomore from Snellville, Ga., went 2-for-4 with a run score. Meanwhile, Schultz also collected a pair of hits and drove in a run.

Illinois added a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Catamount's biggest threat came in the top of the eighth. Western Carolina used a combination of Mat Batts and Brandon Johnson to stop the Illini rally. Batts replaced reliever Matt Benedict, who gave up a lead-off single. Batts faced one batter before Johnson took over. Johnson then allowed a single and hit a batter to load the bases. WCU avoided the logjam with a double play ball hit to the third baseman Kirkpatrick.

Benedict tossed two innings of relief, giving up a run on three hits with two strikeouts. Batts and Johnson combined for an inning of work with one hit allowed and fanning one Illini batter.

Daniel Ottone notched his third save of the year by pitching a flawless ninth inning.

Illinois' Casey McMurray led the squad with a 2-for-4 afternoon. Starter Brian de la Torriente fell to 0-1 after surrendering three earned runs on eight hits in four and two-third innings.

Western Carolina's defensive play was evident as WCU turned two double plays and the rare triple play in the contest. The Catamounts avoided an early Illinois threat due to a lineout to Kirkpatrick, who then stepped on the bag and threw the ball to first.

WCU will conclude the Keith LeClair Classic on Sunday with host East Carolina. The Pirates (5-3) are ranked in every baseball poll, including 14th in Baseball America and 21st in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

The first pitch is scheduled at 2:00 p.m. Left-hander Vance Chavis (2-0, 3.00 ERA) will be on the mound for the Catamounts. Live coverage of Sunday's game can be found through GameTracker at