March 10, 2009
Cullowhee, N.C. - Freshman right-hander Kyle Stewart worked five and a third of one-hit baseball to win his first collegiate start while classmate Ross Heffley posted a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with a double and two RBI as Western Carolina surged past East Tennessee State, 11-5, in nonconference action Tuesday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Stewart, a native of Onalaska, Wisc., pitched around five walks with a career-best seven strikeouts, surrendering two unearned runs in the win. Sophomore Brandon Johnson tallied his first career save working the final two and a third and shutting down a Buccaneers' rally in the seventh inning.
The same two team's wrap-up the two-game set on Wednesday with first pitch at 4:00 pm. Freshman LHP Garrett Baker (0-0) will make his first collegiate start -- and just third appearance -- on the hill for the Catamounts against ETSU senior RHP Ben Andrews (0-1, 5.91)
Seven Catamounts posted multi-hit games as WCU pounded out 17 base hits and 11 runs. It was the fourth double-digit scoring tally for Western this season and the seventh double-figure hit performance. Western improved to 9-2 on the season and remained perfect at home, 7-0, at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium.
Western Carolina opened the scoring with a three-spot in the home half of the third inning on a two RBI double down the left field line for junior Brent Greer, who finished 2-for-5 with a double and three runs driven in. Junior Tyler Kirkpatrick capped the scoring with a hard ground out to plate Heffley, who was intentionally walked earlier in the frame.
The Catamounts stretched the advantage to five with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Heffley opened the inning with a double down the left field line, and two batters later scored from third on an RBI single by senior J.C. Lyons
. He later trotted home on an RBI single by Kirkpatrick to give WCU a 5-0 advantage.
Lyons finished 2-for-4, including his team-best third triple of the season, with a pair of runs scored and two driven in.
East Tennessee State (5-5) responded with three in the visitor's half of the sixth inning. Stewart put himself in a pinch with an error on a run down between second and third that resulted in Buc runners on both bases with just one out. An error at first broke up the shutout, with a bases loaded walk by reliever Tyler Brownlow allowing the third run to score. Matt Benedict came on to end the sixth, but he would not survive the seventh after allowing two earned runs on four hits and gave way to Johnson.
The Buccaneers closed back to within two runs in the seventh, 7-5, but behind Johnson's strong pitching performance shut down the Bucs offense. The Catamounts added a four-run home eighth and were able to hold on for their fourth-straight win.
Heffley and junior Nick Liles, who finished 2-for-5 with a double each stretched their current hitting streaks to 11 and 13 games, respectively. Senior Andy John tallied his first two hits of the season in a 2-for-3 outing, while Matt Johns finished 2-for-2 after taking over at first the final three innings.
For East Tennessee State, starter Dustin Plumlee (2-1) suffered his first defeat of the season after allowing five earned runs on eight base hits through five innings, walking three and striking out two. Troy Mendez posted the lone multi-hit game for the Bucs, who only managed two infield singles through the first seven and a third against WCU pitching. The left fielder finished 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and an RBI.
All told, the Bucs stranded the bases loaded twice as a part of leaving 12 on base.
Wednesday's Projected Pitching Match-Up:
WCU - Fr., LHP Garrett Baker (0-0, 13.50 ERA) vs. ETSU - Sr., RHP Ben Andrews (0-1, 5.91 ERA)