March 17, 2009
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina scored a run in each of the first six innings Tuesday evening, pounding out 15 hits en route to a 14-4 nonconference victory over the High Point Panthers in front of 589 fans at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The win was WCU's 10th-straight at home dating back to last season and improved the Catamounts to 12-4 overall on the season. High Point dropped to 5-9 overall.
Five Catamount hitters posted multi-hit games led by the 3-for-4 showing at the plate by senior J.C. Lyons. The Marietta, Ga., native legged out three doubles in the victory and accounted for five runs with two scored and three RBIs. Junior Logan Bland and true freshman Lee Murray also registered three RBI nights, both finishing 2-for-3 at the plate. It was Murray's third multi-hit game in his last three outings, adding two of Western's six stolen bases on the day.
Senior Corey Martin (4-1) made his first relief appearance of the season to win his team-leading, fourth game of the year. The Yadkinville, N.C., native tossed 1.2 innings of hitless, scoreless relief of sophomore starter Matt Benedict, striking out two. Martin entered the game with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, but induced a 5-4-3 double-play ball on a 0-1 count to erase High Point's threat and keep the game at 5-2, Western.
True freshman - and Brevard, N.C., native - Andrew Blackwell, worked the final four innings, his career-high, scattering five base hits and two runs - only one of which was earned - to pick up his first career save. The local product also tied his career-best with four strikeouts.
All told, Western Carolina used a total of 19 players on Tuesday night.
Nick Liles got Western off to a strong start in the home half of the first inning, blasting his team-leading fourth home run of the season. The Laurinburg, N.C., native took a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left center to give WCU the early, 1-0 advantage. Liles was later ejected from the game after a close play at first as he tried to beat out a bunt to the right side with a head-first slide into the bag.
Still in the first - just two batters later - WCU had a scary moment as hot-hitting freshman Ross Heffley was hit in the batter's helmet by a pitch which sent him reeling to the dirt. He would leave the field under his own power, though, and is listed as day-to-day with a concussion.
Tied at two in the bottom of the third, Western pushed across three runs to stretch its lead to 5-2 utilizing four base hits, three of which were singles. Murray, junior Tyler Kirkpatrick singled with Murray scampering home on a RBI single through the left side by Greer. Designated hitter Stephen Notaro sacrificed two into scoring position ahead of Lyons who laced his first of three doubles down the left field line to plate two.
Western again scored three in the fifth inning with Murray driving in two, and added five in the home half of the sixth in a frame that saw three doubles (Greer, Lyons and Bland) and a sacrifice fly by Murray.
High Point managed two runs in the last two innings to provide the final tally.
Panther starter Mikel Rodenberg picked up the loss in his first decision of the season after allowing six runs on seven hits while striking out four through four innings. Rodenberg only walked one, but hit three batters. Relievers Brian Jones and Nick Lettas combined for the final four innings, allowing a combined eight runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Kyle Mahoney finished 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and was hit by a pitch to lead High Point offensively. Bill Manion was 2-for-4 and Spencer Andrews finished 2-for-5 in the loss.
Western Carolina continues its current five-game home stand on Wednesday by hosting mountain-rival, UNC Asheville, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. UNCA will be playing its fourth game in as many days, falling to East Tennessee State Tuesday night, 3-2. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 pm.
Wednesday's Projected Pitching Match-Up:
WCU - RHP Kyle Stewart (Fr., 1-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. UNCA - RHP Ryan Dull (Fr., 0-3, 4.19 ERA)