March 20, 2010
Boone, N.C. -
Western Carolina scored nine runs in the first three innings and held off Appalachian State's comeback bid in the latter innings to even the best-of-three series with the rival Mountaineers with a 10-7 victory Saturday afternoon at Smith Stadium. The win was WCU's first Southern Conference this season victory, ending a four-game slide also snapped the Mountaineers' 19-game home winning streak.
The rubber match in the three-game conference set is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Sunday afternoon at Beaver Field / Smith Stadium. Sophomore right-hander Kyle Stewart is scheduled to get the start for the Catamounts. The game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard online at www.CatamountSports.com beginning at 12:45 pm.
Cameron Dullnig laced the first pitch of the game right back up the middle where it careened off ASU starter Tyler Jackson's leg to set the tone for the first half of the game. WCU sent eight batters to the plate in the opening frame, pushing across four runs to seize a lead it would never relinquish.
Dullnig, who helped preserve the WCU shutout through five innings by gunning down ASU's Ryan Stetson at home plate from right field, stretched his current team-leading hitting streak to nine-straight games.
In the second inning, Ross Heffley recorded two of his three RBI on a two-run home run to left field to post the Catamounts to a 5-0 lead through two. An inning later, Trevor Collias blasted a three-run round-tripper on the second pitch by Mountaineer reliever David Port in the third as WCU opened pulled out to a 9-0 advantage.
Heffley posted the lone multi-hit game for the Catamounts finishing 2-for-5 with three RBI giving him a team-leading five in the series.
Western Carolina (13-6, 1-4 SoCon) capped its scoring in the fifth as Matt Johns
drew a one-out walk, stole second and was eventually plated on an RBI single by Dylan de Graaf
to stretch the Catamount advantage to 10-0.
Behind the strong offensive start, the Catamounts (13-6, 1-4 SoCon) received an equally strong opening from starting pitcher Matt Benedict (2-0). The St. Petersburg, Fla., native worked through five and two thirds innings to earn his second win of the season, allowing just one earned run in the five he surrendered, scattering seven base hits and fanning two without a walk.
WCU relievers Andrew Blackwell and Mat Batts combined for an inning and a third, each tallying a strikeout with Brandon Johnson tossing an inning and two thirds with a strikeout despite surrendering two runs on two hits. Senior Daniel Ottone relieved Johnson in the ninth inning, inducing a game-ending ground ball to the left side against the only batter he faced to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Trailing by 10 runs, the home-standing Mountaineers answered with a five-spot in the home half of the sixth inning to cut the Western Carolina lead in half, capitalizing on three hits and a pair of Catamount miscues. Then, in the home half of the ninth, Wes Hobson tried to keep ASU in the game with a one-out, two-run home run to right center to pull the Apps within three, 10-7.
But Ottone came on in relief of Johnson with one aboard and closed it out for WCU.
First pitch in Sunday's series finale is set for 1:00 pm in Boone.