Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina scored in five of the eight innings in which it took swings on Friday afternoon, collecting 16 hits including six for extra bases with four doubles and two home runs as the Catamounts claimed their nonconference series-opener over Kent State, 10-2, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
With the Catamount offense rattling off its third-best hit total of the season, senior left-hander Bryan Sammons (4-0) turned in another solid performance on the mound. The Wilmington, N.C., native struck out eight through eight innings, limiting Kent State to two runs -- one earned -- on just five hits to pick up his fourth victory of the year. The reigning Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week, Sammons only issued two free passes with a walk and a HBP in the winning effort.
Sammons recorded his 23rd career victory on Friday to move into sole possession of eighth in the program ledgers, just one shy of matching Phillip Grundy who won 24 decisions from 1991-93. Sammons has a career record of 23-10 with his 47 career starts moving him into a tie for fifth in program history, matching Stewart Keyes (47, 1986-89). He also ranks eighth in program history with 253 career strikeouts.
Following Sammons' strong eight innings, senior Korey Anderson struck out two in an inning of one-hit, scoreless relief in the ninth to finish-off WCU's home victory. The Catamounts improved to 8-9 overall on the season with the win.
Led by senior Nobu Suzuki at the top of the Catamount line-up, six Catamounts posted multiple-hit games on Friday. The Tokyo, Japan, product finished 3-for-4 with a double, both scoring and driving in a run. Suzuki matched his career-best with three hits in the win. Earning the start behind the plate, junior Spencer Holcomb went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and three RBI, while Caleb Robinson plated two on a two-run homerun as a part of a 2-for-3, three-run performance.
Redshirt sophomore Matthew Koehler doubled twice in a 2-for-5, two-run performance and extended his hitting streak to eight-straight, while redshirt freshman Justin Sparks and junior Brett Pope both tallied a pair of hits in a 2-for-3 and 2-for-5 performance, respectively, combining to drive in two. Pope is amidst a seven-game hit streak.
Four-consecutive hits including three singles and a double opened the scoring for WCU in the home half of the second inning. Robinson and Koehler reached with a single and double, respectively, before a RBI single up the middle by Holcomb put the Catamounts on the board. Sparks then delivered a run-scoring single to center field to make it 2-0. J.D. Long, who finished 1-for-3 with a single, put down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners before Holcomb scored on a Suzuki single into right center.
Up 3-0 after two, the Catamounts stretched their advantage to five in the third inning as Matt Smith reached on a one-out walk before Caleb Robinson lined a shot over the fence in left field for his first home run of the year.
Kent State (9-6) trimmed the deficit back to four with a lead-off home run by Luke Burch. However, the Catamounts got the marker back in the bottom of the frame as Sparks singled and scored on a bases loaded single up the middle by Pope to make it 6-1.
Holcomb stretched the advantage with a two-run scoring single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the home squad an 8-1 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, Kent State capitalized on a pair of WCU errors to plate an unearned run to make it 8-2. But, in the home half of the frame, redshirt senior Bryson Bowman extended his reached base safely streak to 17 -- each game this season -- with a towering two-run home run that cleared the batters eye in center field. His third round-tripper of the season provided the final tally, 10-2, as Anderson stranded a runner at second base in the ninth to close the game.
Kent State starter Eli Kraus (3-2) took the loss after allowing five runs on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout in five innings of work. Reliever Robert Zeigler was tagged for three runs on five hits in two innings while Aaron Tadian gave up two runs on three hits with a walk in tossing the eighth inning.
The Golden Flashes has two players post multi-hit games as Josh Hollander went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and a run scored, while Luke Burch was 2-for-4 with a lead-off home run in the sixth inning.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for a 4:00 pm first pitch on Saturday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. Saturday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio as well as live GameTracker available online at CatamountSports.com.