March 9, 2007
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina scored runs in four of the first five innings and starting pitcher Tyler Sexton improved to 4-0 on the season as the Catamounts downed the Xavier Musketeers, 9-4, Friday afternoon in the first of a three-game series at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium.
The two teams are scheduled to meet on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm, with the finale slated for 1:00 pm on Sunday.
Sexton only allowed two Musketeers to score, one of which was earned, while scattering six hits in six solid innings of work to earn the victory. The junior left-hander from High Point also struck out and walked five. Freshman Blake Bostic made his first collegiate appearance, throwing one inning and allowing one earned run. Junior Andrew Larrimore pitched the final two innings giving up one earned run on just one hit.
Six Catamounts recorded multiple hits games offensively as Western collected 15 off Musketeer pitching. Junior Jonathan Greene finished a team-best 3-for-5 with two runs scored and one driven in. His classmate, Barrett Shaft, went 2-for-3 with a pair of sacrifice hits and a walk. Sophomore Mitchell Hatley was also among WCU's leaders with a perfect 2-for-2 showing at the plate with an RBI and he scored once.
Rounding out Western's multi-hit parade on Friday were junior Blake Murphy and senior transfers John Ingram and Kenny Smith, with the latter belting his fifth double and first triple of the season, driving in a game-high tying two runs.
Xavier (1-13) threatened in the top of the first with a one-out single to right center field by Adam Lipski to put a runner aboard. However, a force play at second base kept a runner at first with two outs. WCU's Murphy ended the frame by throwing out his third runner in the past two games, gunning down Adam Pasono at second.
The Catamounts took the lead in the home half of the opening frame as freshman Nick Liles extended his team-leading hitting streak to six games with a single through the left side to put one aboard with one out. The Laurinburg, N.C., native moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a Musketeer throwing error that put junior Steven Strausbaugh on for runners on the corners. Liles scored on the second wild pitch of the inning from Xavier starter Michael Lucas to give Western the early 1-0 lead.
Western (8-5) stretched its lead in the second as Smith opened the frame with a double to right and trotted home on a RBI single through the right side by Hatley.
A four-run third inning broke the game open for the Catamounts as Strausbaugh, Greene and Murphy combined for three-consecutive singles before Smith drove in the first run on what appeared to be a routine double-play. Strausbaugh scored first on the play with an errant throw to first by XU second baseman, Lipski, allowing Greene to score. Smith touched home on Ingram's RBI single to center, with Ingram moving around the bases on a wild pitch and scoring when Liles was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Xavier got on the scoreboard in the top half of the fifth inning as Jordan Wolf drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a Sexton wild pitch. With a 2-1 count, Lipski doubled down the left field line to pull the Musketeers to within five, 6-1. Yet, Western answered in the home portion of the inning with two runs as Hatley and Strausbaugh both touched the dish, taking advantage of a hit batsman, a walk and a Xavier throwing error.
The Musketeers would not go away, though, adding one run and threatening more in each the sixth, seventh and ninth innings. In the sixth, Xavier used an error and back-to-back two out walks to load the bases, scoring one run on a hard-hit ball that deflected off Sexton's glove for an infield single. However, the left-hander recovered and got Lipski to bounce to second to end the inning.
In the seventh, Bostic recorded the first out on just two pitches before three-consecutive singles loaded the bases. Robbie Kelley, who entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning at third base for Xavier, lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in the lone tally of the inning as Bostic pitched out of trouble with a fly out to left by Neil Lindgren.
Smith answered in the bottom of the inning, providing the final tally with an RBI triple - his first of the season - in the WCU seventh.
Xavier's Lucas suffered the defeat, tossing just three innings while allowing six runs, five earned, on eight hits and a pair of strikeouts. He also was guilty of four wild pitches. Joe Kohler equaled Lucas' time on the hill, holding the Catamounts to two runs, one earned, while David Hartman threw the final two frames with one earned run and a pair of strikeouts.
First pitch of game two is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Saturday afternoon in Cullowhee.