March 23, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina fell behind early on Saturday afternoon as Elon pulled out to a six run lead through the first three innings before the Catamounts dropped the second game of the three-game series, 8-5, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. Despite the early deficit, WCU rallied to within a run at 6-5 after the sixth inning, but the Phoenix tacked on a pair of insurance runs for the final score.
First pitch of Sunday's rubber match has been pushed back to 2:00 pm, keeping the same schedule as Saturday. WCU will start junior right-hander Jordan Smith (1-2, 5.72 ERA) with Elon countering with LHP Spencer Medick (2-1, 2.55 ERA).
Five Catamounts posted two-hit games on Saturday as WCU out-hit the Phoenix, 13-to-12. Catamount catcher Adam Martin led the way with a 2-for-3 outing, reaching three times as he was hit by a pitch in the third. Left-handed hitters Cody Jones and Bradley Strong finished 2-for-4 at the plate while Aaron Attaway and Julian Ridings collected two hits apiece, both going 2-for-5.
Elon (13-9, 6-5 SoCon) used a first inning, three-run home run by Antonio Alvarez to grab an advantage it would never relinquish before stretching it to six runs with three markers in the third. Will Leathers plated a run with a single ahead of a two-run scoring single by Niko Fraser in the third to give the Phoenix a six-run advantage.
In the home half of the third, the Catamounts got on the scoreboard as Attaway blasted a three-run home run over the fence in left, scoring both Martin who was plunked by a pitch and Strong who reached on a single up the middle. Attaway's fourth home run of the season closed the deficit to three, 6-3.
Western Carolina clawed back with solo runs in the fourth and sixth innings to pull within a run. Martin doubled to left center field to drive home Austin Neary who reached on a one-out single through the left side to make it 6-4 in the fourth. Then in the sixth, Jones drove a single to center to bring home Strong from third who had also reached on a one-out single to make it 6-5.
However, Elon answered WCU's two runs with single runs in the seventh and ninth to stretch its lead to the final tally. A lead-off walk to Fraser scored the first tally as Quinn Bower singled through the left side to plate the run in the seventh. In the ninth, Sebastian Gomez doubled to left center before taking third on a wild pitch and scoring on an infield single by Bower.
Bower finished with a career-high four hits on a 4-for-6 performance at the plate with two RBI while Alvarez was 1-for-2 with three walks and three RBI on the first inning homer. Fraser (2-for-3) and Joey Tomko (2-for-5) collected two hits apiece for Elon.
The Phoenix stranded 13 runners on the day, leaving the bases loaded twice. WCU left nine on base, threatening by loading the bases with two outs in the fifth on back-to-back singles by Ridings and White with a walk to Jacob Hoyle, but were unable to capitalize.
Catamount starter Morgan McKinney (1-2) was tagged with the loss after being chased after two and a third, giving up six runs on seven hits with one strikeout and four walks. Freshman Colton Davis fanned four in three innings of relief work with Jon Nadale and Tyler Powell combining for one inning of work. Senior Hunter Brister struck out three in two and two thirds of relief work out of the bullpen, allowing a run on three hits.
For Elon, starter Kyle Webb (2-0) scored the win, striking out three against three walks while giving up three runs on 10 hits through five and a third. Reliever Andrew MacDonald picked up his first save by limiting WCU to one hit through three and a third, striking out four.
The final game is scheduled now for a 2:00 pm start on Sunday at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.