Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina managed to erase all but two runs of a nine-run middle inning deficit on Wednesday night. However, the Catamounts were blanked over the final four frames by visiting Gardner-Webb, suffering a 15-13 loss at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium in the frontend of a midweek nonconference home-and-home.
Gardner-Webb (10-12) scored early-and-often, plating runs in the top of each of the first five frames including a seven-run top of the fourth to grab a nine-run, 15-6, lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning. WCU matched the seven-run frame, lighting the scoreboard for seven runs in the bottom of the frame to close to within two. But it was as close as the Catamounts could get as neither squad scored over the final four innings.
Senior Matt Smith and junior transfer Cameron Blaquiere paced a combined seven Catamount hitters with multi-hit games on Wednesday, both finishing 3-for-5. Smith finished a triple shy of the cycle, legging out a double and belting his first home run of the season -- a two-run shot in the third inning -- as a part of driving home five RBI. Blaquiere doubled with a pair of singles for WCU, finishing with his WCU-best, three hits.
Redshirt senior Bryson Bowman reached three times including a walk and two singles, extending his reached base safely streak to 20 games -- every game this season. Junior Spencer Holcomb tallied a pair of hits to stretch his current hitting streak to a team-best five games to match Bowman.
Starting pitcher Dillon Bray (0-3) -- the first of seven WCU pitchers to toe the rubber on Wednesday -- suffered the loss after allowing six runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Seniors Korey Anderson and B.J. Nobles were among the most effective relievers on Wednesday, combining to toss the final four frames of scoreless relief. Anderson struck out four against two walks in three innings of two-hit relief while Nobles fanned two against one hit in the ninth in holding the Runnin' Bulldogs scoreless.
Gardner-Webb reliever Taylor Goodwin (1-0) was credited with the victory as the most productive reliever for the visitors. Goodwin tossed an inning and a third of hitless, scoreless relief with one strikeout. Jarrett Thompson struck out three in an inning and a third innings, allowing two runs on four hits out of the bullpen.
Six Gardner-Webb players posted multi-hit games including a 5-for-5 showing by Gage Parham, who drove in five, and four-hit, 4-for-6 performances by both Mickey Dugan and Collin Thacker. Both hit three-run homers in the winning effort with Thacker
Western Carolina (8-12) opens a four-game road swing this weekend, traveling to Greensboro, N.C., for a three-game Southern Conference-opening series against UNCG (13-8). First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:00 pm with Saturday's game slated to start at 3:00 pm followed by a 1:00 pm start on Sunday. Each game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio available online at CatamountSports.com. Friday's game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3 with the second two weekend games to be streamed on YouTube.