March 22, 2014
Elon, N.C. - Junior Jacob Hoyle blasted two of Western Carolina's four solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings to lift the Catamounts to a 6-5 victory over the Elon Phoenix in Southern Conference action Saturday afternoon at Latham Park.
Saturday's back-and-forth affair saw four ties and three lead changes with five of WCU's eight hits going for extra bases - four leaving the ball park.
Sunday's series rubber match has been bumped up to a Noon start time. The game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with an air time of 11:45 am. WCU (12-9, 1-1 SoCon) is slated to start senior RHP Jordan Smith in the series finale.
Trailing 5-4 going into the eighth inning, the Catamounts played long-ball to tie and retake the lead. Hoyle opened the eighth inning with a shot to right center field on a 2-1 pitch, tying the game at five apiece. Then, in the ninth, Hoyle again went long with his team-high tying fifth home run of the season, a two-out shot to right field to make it 6-5.
Hoyle led seven Catamounts with hits against Elon on Saturday, going 2-for-4 with two homers and two RBI. Junior Dale Urquhart Jr., blasted his second home run of the season with a lead-off shot in the third, while redshirt senior Taylor Sandefur - in just his second full game back from injury - belted his first career home run on a fourth inning round-tripper to left field.
Elon (14-8, 3-2 SoCon) took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning, capitalizing on the first two of 12 walks issued by WCU pitching on the day. Casey Jones drove home the first run on a double to left field and Sebastian Gomez plated a second run on a ground out to give the Phoenix a 2-0 lead.
The Catamounts mounted the first rally two frames later, scratching the scoreboard for a matching two runs in the top of the third. Urquhart Jr., belted a lead-off home run to left field to trim the deficit to one. J.D. Long legged out his second double of the series, but was later gunned down at home trying to score after a single up the middle by Aaron Attaway. A passed ball eventually allowed Attaway to scamper home from third, sliding home ahead of the relay to knot the game at two.
Just as quickly as WCU had rallied to tie the game in the top of the third, Elon reclaimed a one-run advantage in the bottom of the frame. A two-out walk to Chris Hall put a runner aboard ahead of Nick Zammarelli, who singled up the middle to put runners at the corners. Pinch hitter Danny Lynch then dribbled one to second, but the slow roller was misplayed allowing the unearned run to score from third as Elon retook the lead, 3-2.
Western Carolina answered with its second, two-run inning in the top of the fourth to pull in front for the first time. Sandefur opened scoring with his first home run, circling the bases after hitting an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left. The Catamounts used a single by Cody Jones and consecutive walks to Urquhart and Bermudez to load the bases. Long then plated a run on a ground ball to third base making it 4-3, WCU.
However, Elon tied the game again in the bottom of the fourth as Quinn Bower drew a one-out walk before stealing second with an error allowing him to advance to third on the play. The Phoenix would eventually load the bases on two more walks with the equalizing run driven in as Chris Hall was hit by an inside pitch, making it 4-4 through four.
The game remained tied until Elon claimed a one-run, 5-4, edge in the home portion of the seventh inning. The Phoenix again loaded the bases on two hits and a walk with another free pass issued to Ryan Cooper forcing the go-ahead run home. Elon threatened for more, but a double-play limited the home squad to the one run. Casey Jones flew out to left fielder, Adam Martin, who came up throwing and nailed Chris King at home as he tried to tag and score on the play from third base, setting up Hoyle's heroics in the final two frames.
Reliever Colton Davis (2-1) earned the victory for the Catamounts, tossing an inning and two-thirds out of the bullpen. The Commerce, Ga., native worked around two walks with a strikeout, and was on the hill when Hoyle pushed WCU to the lead with his second round-tripper. Junior closer Tyler Powell earned his second save of the year, pitching the ninth and recording the final out after two-out singles put two Elon runners aboard.
Catamount starter Bryan Sammons worked just an inning-plus on Saturday before giving way to sophomore Jonathan Waszak. The Wendell, N.C., product settled things for WCU, tossing three and two thirds innings out of the bullpen where he worked around six walks with just one hit allowed, giving up two runs, one earned. T.J. Fussell made his second appearance of the series, striking out three in an inning and two thirds.
Elon left-handed reliever Brandon Kacer (0-1) suffered the loss after being called upon to pitch to Hoyle, a left-handed hitter. Starter Jake Stalzer lasted 3.1 innings, matching his shortest outing of the season. He was tagged for four runs - three earned - on five hits with two walks and strikeout.
Combined, both squads used five pitchers apiece.