Western Carolina Takes Two from Hartford Sunday Afternoon, 32-3 and 5-3

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Mike Tavernier worked five solid innings to earn his team-best third win of the season in his first WCU start Sunday afternoon in game one. (Photo by Mark Haskett)
Mike Tavernier worked five solid innings to earn his team-best third win of the season in his first WCU start Sunday afternoon in game one. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

March 16, 2008

Western Carolina vs. Hartford - Game One Box Score
Western Carolina vs. Hartford - Game Two Box Score

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina took the first two games of its non-conference baseball series with the Hartford Hawks Sunday afternoon in two different manners. The Catamounts pounded out a season-high 24 hits en route to a convincing 32-3 victory in game one before riding solid pitching in a 5-3 win in what turned out to be a pitcher's duel at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

The 32 runs scored by the Catamounts in game one are a school record, surpassing the previous mark of 29 tallied against Marshall back in 1992. The 29-run margin of victory was also a school record, eclipsing the old mark of 28 set in 1971 against Allen College. WCU belted eight home runs, including the first grand slam of the season off the bat of J.C. Lyons.

WCU trailed 3-1 after the first inning of play in game one, but erupted for 13 runs on 10 base hits, including four home runs, in the second inning to put the game out of reach early. Sophomore Tyler Kirkpatrick blasted a three-run homer to open the barrage, with Lyons' grand slam followed by a second three-run shot by freshman Matt Johns and concluded with a two-run home run to right by senior Barrett Shaft.

The 13 runs plated in the decisive second inning of that same game tied a school benchmark for runs in a single-inning (VMI, 1991 and 1992).

The Catamounts would continue the onslaught in the third, pushing across four runs thanks to a sacrifice fly by senior Jason Haynes and a three RBI triple off the bat of Reid Rollison to lead 18-3 after three innings. Western added nine runs in the home half of the fourth and five in the bottom of the fifth to conclude the scoring.



Junior Mike Tavernier picked up his third win of the season in game one, tossing five innings in his first start for the Catamounts. He scattered five base hits, allowing three earned runs with five strikeouts and a pair of walks in the win. Freshman Matt Benedict threw the final four innings of two-hit baseball, holding the Hawks scoreless while fanning four.

For Hartford, Weston Szymanski suffered the defeat after allowing eight runs, seven of which were earned, in just one inning of work. Hartford used a total of five pitchers in the opener, walking eight and also hitting nine WCU batters in the loss.

In game two, the Catamounts rallied from down 3-2 entering the home half of the sixth inning to surge ahead and hold on for the victory.

Western opened the scoring in the second game as senior Blake Murphy belted a two-out double to left center field in the bottom of the fourth. The next batter, sophomore Brent Greer, laced an RBI single up the middle to give the Catamounts the 1-0 lead.

However, Hartford answered with a two-spot of its own in the top of the fifth as left fielder Drew Sgro doubled to right and was scored two batters later on an RBI single to center by Roger Wilmot. Two singles later, with the latter coming off the bat of Adam Bowser, Wilmot trotted home to give the Hawks the lead, 2-1.

The advantage was short-lived, though, as sophomore Nick Liles singled up the middle to score Kirkpatrick from second to knot the game at two.

Trailing by one, 3-2, in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore Brent Greer took a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left field to tie the game at three. Then, with Mathews aboard, classmate Johns doubled down the left field line to push WCU ahead, 4-3. The Catamounts would add a run in the bottom of the seventh when Liles scampered home on a throwing error by the Hawks' pitcher on a failed pick-off to provide the final tally.

Junior Garrett Ozar collected his second win of the season in six innings of work. The Oak Park, Calif., native only allowed three earned runs on eight hits while striking out six against two walks. Senior Tyler Sexton made his first relief appearance of the season, fanning a season-high six in three innings of one-hit action to secure his first save at WCU.

Hawk starter Chris Greiner was saddled with the loss after allowing four earned runs on 10 hits with five of Hartford's 10 strikeouts of Catamount hitters in the second game.

Offensively, Liles led the Catamounts on the day with a 7-for-10 showing, including a 4-for-6 outing in game one which included scoring five runs. The Laurinburg, N.C., native had a pair of doubles in the two wins. Mathews finished the day 5-of-10 with six runs scored and two home runs, while Kirkpatrick also blasted a pair of round-trippers on Sunday. Murphy was walked three times, including one intentional, and was hit by a pitch twice.

Western Carolina wraps up the rain-delayed, three-game series with Hartford on Monday evening at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium. First pitch is slated for 5:00 pm.


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