March 10, 2007
Cullowhee, N.C. - Xavier used a six-run sixth inning and a five spot in the top half of the seventh to break open a one-run game, out slugging Western Carolina 17-12 Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium. The two teams combined for 29 runs on 36 hits including nine for extra bases.
Senior John Ingram led the Catamounts with a perfect 4-for-4 performance at the plate including his fifth double and a pair of home runs, his first two this season. Ingram finished with a game-high six RBI and along with junior Blake Murphy, three runs scored. Murphy finished 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBI, while classmate Steven Strausbaugh drove in a pair on two hits and was hit by a pitch.
Xavier (2-13) pushed a pair of runs across in the top of the first inning, including a tally on a wild pitch and a RBI single to left by designated hitter Jack Bonnikson, to take a 2-0 lead. The Catamounts cut the deficit in half after junior Barrett Shaft led off with a walk, stole second and scored from third on an RBI single by Strausbaugh. However, the Musketeers scored four times in the top of the second inning to take a 6-1 lead.
Despite loading the bases with back-to-back singles and a walk in the third, WCU (8-6) only managed to plate one run in the frame on an RBI single by Murphy. On the play, shortstop Jason Haynes was thrown out at home, allowing Murphy to scamper to second to put two on with two out. Yet, the rally was thwarted after senior Kenny Smith laced one to the warning track in left field on a ball that did not carry.
The Catamounts manufactured a run in the fourth before trimming the Xavier lead to one in the home half of the fifth on the first of two Ingram long balls. Murphy drew a one out walk and two batters later, Ingram was first-pitch swinging, taking one to the opposite field for a two-run homer.
Things came unraveled for Western in the top of both the sixth and seventh innings. Ten Musketeer hitters took swings in the sixth and 11 stepped in during the seventh as Xavier broke open the close game with a combined 11 runs between the two frames.
In the sixth, WCU was nearly out of trouble after the fourth run scored as relief pitcher Greg Holland struck out XU's Drew Schmidt but the third strike got away from catcher Jonathan Greene, allowing a run to scamper home and the inning to continue. In the seventh, Western pitcher Daniel Ottone surrendered a lead-off walk before inducing consecutive fly-outs to center and right, respectively, to put two away in the frame. Yet, a single and back-to-back walks pushed home the first run with three additional RBI singles chasing Ottone in place of Bryan Corbett who walked one but struck out the final batter to end the inning.
The Catamounts attempted a come back in the seventh and eighth innings, tallying seven runs on seven hits. Greene opened the seventh with a double to left center and was driven home by Murphy with an RBI single to right center. Smith drew a walk to put two aboard for Ingram who delivered a towering three-run homer to left field, clearing the middle section of fence. Strausbaugh completed the scoring by driving in freshman Nick Liles, who extended his team-best hitting streak to seven games with a 1-for-4 showing.
In the seventh, Murphy singled through the left side and moved to second when left fielder Sean Farrell could not come up with the scoop cleanly and bobbled the ball. Murphy scored on an RBI double to the gap in left center by Ingram, completing the Alpharetta, Ga., native's six-RBI day.
WCU starter Brock Thornburg (1-2) suffered his second defeat of the season after only lasting an inning and two thirds, allowing six runs - four earned - off six hits with three walks and a strikeout. Corey Martin threw three and a third of effective relief, holding Xavier to two earned runs on just three hits. Corbett pitched two and a third innings of scoreless relief, only allowing two hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts.
Xavier's Mark Janszen (1-1) earned his first victory of the season after starter Bill Konecny tossed the first four innings and was lifted at the start of the fifth for Brett Greenwell to not factor in on the decision. Konecny scattered seven hits, allowing three earned runs with four walks while Greenwell gave up six earned runs on six hits in two innings of work.
Musketeer second baseman Adam Lipski was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, finishing 4-for-7 with a double, triple and a pair of singles with four RBI and three runs scored. Andy Zellers drove in three with Jordan Wolf and Bonnikson each recording three hits in the win.
The two teams will wrap up the three-game set on Sunday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 1:00 pm. Fans can follow all of the action on live GameTracker, presented by Carolina West Sports Medicine and West Care Health System, by logging onto www.CatamountSports.com.