March 19, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. -
East Tennessee State used a pair of four-run innings and capitalized on six Catamount errors as the Buccaneers handed Western Carolina a 12-9 home loss on Wednesday evening in midweek nonconference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
WCU's loss halts the nation's longest home winning streak at 21-straight games, a school-record for consecutive home victories at the on-campus facility. It was the first home defeat for the Catamounts since a 12-9 loss to then No. 17 Clemson back on April 9, 2013. The loss also halts WCU's seven-game win streak over the former - and future - conference member, ETSU.
The two squads will meet again next Tuesday in Johnson City, Tenn., in the back-end of the home-and-home.
Despite trailing by seven runs through the game's midpoint, Western Carolina (11-8) was able to rally back to within a run, 9-8, on the strength of a six-run bottom of the sixth inning. The Catamount surge was keyed by five hits including a two-RBI double by Danny Bermudez and a three-run home run by Aaron Attaway.
However, as was the case most of the night, the Catamounts were unable to find the shutdown inning to ride the wave of momentum to the lead. ETSU pushed across two runs in the top of the seventh on the heels of the six-run frame to stretch the margin back to three, 11-8. WCU scratched the scoreboard again in the bottom of the seventh on a RBI double by J.D. Long down the right field line only to see the Bucs match in the marker in the top of the eighth to reclaim a three-run margin.
Down to its final three outs, the Catamounts threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning. Luke Gragg and Cody Jones drew walks around a fly ball out to bring the game-tying run to the plate. However, a strikeout and groundout back to the mound ended the Catamount threat and the game.
Spiess and Jones led the Catamounts with three hits and an RBI apiece in the loss. Spiess (3-for-5) finished a triple shy of the cycle with a single, double and homer, while Jones (3-for-4) tallied three singles and a walk. Red-hot hitting Adam Martin
finished 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Bermudez and Long both added doubles for WCU.
Spiess gave the Catamounts a short-lived, 1-0, lead in the home half of the second inning as he belted his third home run of the season. The solo shot carried the wall in right center as the home squad climbed on top first.
However, ETSU responded with its back-to-back, four-run innings. Between the visitor's third and fourth innings, the Buccaneers scored eight runs on six hits and took advantage of three Catamount errors.
The Buccaneers had four players record multi-hit games including a 4-for-6 outing with a two-run home run, driving in four runs on the day. Catcher Matt Sorrow finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI, while Tyler Roach homered in a 2-for-4 performance. Jeremy Taylor also collected two hits, driving in a pair of runs in the seventh inning on a triple to right field.
Catamount starter Alex Barr (0-1) looked strong through the first two frames, retiring the Buccaneers in order in both the first and second with a strikeout. However, things unraveled for the southpaw in the third including two solo home runs, a walk, and a throwing error as a part of a four-run frame that gave ETSU the lead it would never relinquish. Barr officially tossed 2.1 innings with the one strikeout against two walks, allowing four runs - three of which were earned - on three hits.
Including Barr, six Catamount pitchers toed the rubber on Wednesday. Freshman Nate Williams tossed an inning out of the pen, allowing three runs - one earned - on two hits with a strikeout, while sophomore Jonathan Wazak recorded 1.2 innings with a pair of strikeouts but was tagged for two runs, one earned. Redshirt sophomore Bryce Danielson fanned two in an inning of work, pitching out of a bases loaded jam, with senior T.J. Fussell striking out one in one inning of one-hit scoreless relief. Sophomore Colton Davis rounded out the Catamount pitchers, giving up one run on three hits with two walks and two K's.
Jamin McCann (2-1) got the victory for ETSU, tossing two innings in a predetermined start. He scattered two hits, allowing just the one run on the Spiess homer. McCann was one of seven Bucs pitchers. Freeman, who started the game at first base, tossed the final two innings to collected his third save of the year, striking out three against the two ninth inning walks.
Western Carolina opens a four-game road swing this weekend as it begins Southern Conference play by visiting Elon (13-7, 2-1 SoCon). The three-game series against the Phoenix opens on Friday with a 6:00 pm first pitch, followed by a 4:00 pm Saturday start and 1:30 pm on Sunday afternoon.