March 26, 2008
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina rode a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth by senior Jason Haynes to sink the East Tennessee State Buccaneers, 12-11, Tuesday night in non-conference action at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium. The Catamounts were able to work around a season-high seven errors to secure the win, its third-straight over ETSU.
Sophomore Dylan de Graaf nearly tied the game as the leadoff batter in the home half of the ninth as he drilled a shot to right center field that just stayed in the ballpark. The Cumming, Ga., native circled the bases with a stand-up triple as the tying run at third. Haynes then, on a 2-1 pitch, blasted his first home run of the season over the "Purple Monster" in left to propel WCU to the win, snapping its season-long, five-game losing skid.
Haynes finished 1-for-1 with a homer and was hit by a pitch after pinch hitting in the seventh inning. It was the third career round-tripper for the Fort Mill, S.C., native.
Sophomore reliever Chris Masters (1-2) earned his first win of the season as Western ran five different hurlers to the mound behind freshman Matt Benedict who was making his first career start. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native lasted three and a third for his second-longest career outing while allowing seven runs - only two of which were earned - and scattering six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Senior Tyler Sexton and freshman Brandon Johnson each tossed two innings in relief while combining to only allow two earned runs, with Johnson recording three K's. Junior Drew Saberhagen tossed one third of an inning, facing two batters and allowing one earned run on one hit. Masters went the final inning and a third of shutout relief allowing just one base hit with three strikeouts to break into the win column.
Trailing 4-0 after the top of the first inning, Western (7-14) answered back with three runs in the home half of the frame to trim the deficit back to one, 4-3. Sophomore Brent Greer
singled and senior Blake Murphy
drew his first of two walks ahead of junior transfer J.C. Lyons
who hammered his seventh homer of the season over the fence in right centerfield to pull the Catamounts back within a run.
Down 9-4 entering the bottom of the seventh, Western exploded for six runs on five hits while capitalizing on two Buc errors to seize its first lead of the game. Lyons singled and was scored on his second triple of the year to center. With two aboard, pinch hitter Matt Johns came through with a two-RBI double and later scored on a throwing error by ETSU. Two additional runs would score for WCU on a double by Greer and a single by Murphy for a six-run frame and a 10-9 lead.
However, East Tennessee answered with a two-spot in the top of the eighth on a two-RBI double to reclaim the lead, 11-10, setting up Haynes' ninth inning fireworks.
Lyons led the Catamounts with a 3-for-5 showing on the evening including the three-run home run with three runs scored. Greer was the only other player for WCU to post a multiple-hit game with a 2-for-4 night, scoring twice. De Graaf finished 1-for-3 with the triple and drew a pair of walks in the win.
For East Tennessee State (5-15), which stranded 14 base runners in the loss, ace reliever Ben Andrews (1-1) was saddled with the loss after allowing the two earned runs on two hits with two strikeouts in an inning of work. Five Bucs posted multiple hit games including three with three hits apiece. Right fielder Troy Mendez and first baseman Paul Hoilman each finished 3-for-5 while shortstop Nick Belcher was 3-for-6, each tallying a double.
Western Carolina travels to the Asheville Tourist's McCormick Field on Wednesday to face the UNC Asheville Bulldogs in non-conference action. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 pm. The game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally in Western North Carolina on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee, or online at www.WWCUFM.com.