March 29, 2012
Kennesaw, Ga. - Sophomore Julian Ridings belted his first collegiate home run, skirting the fence in right center field in the top of the ninth inning to tie Wednesday's nonconference game at six. Then, in the top of the first extra frame, freshman Bradley Strong delivered a RBI double to right field, plating sophomore Adam Martin from second base as Western Carolina rallied to defeat Kennesaw State on the road, 7-6, in 10 innings.
Closer Preston Hatcher (5-0) scored the victory for the Catamounts, tossing the final three innings allowing one run on one hit with a walk and a strikeout and inducing three ground ball outs in a perfect bottom of the 10th inning.
Five Catamount hitters finished with multiple hits with Aaron Attaway and Tyler White finishing 2-for-4 while Martin, Ridings and Cody Jones were all 2-for-5 on the day. Freshmen Jacob Hoyle and Strong recorded doubles in the winning effort with Ridings adding the only other extra base hit among WCU's 13 knocks on the day.
Western Carolina (18-8) jumped out to a three-run lead with single runs in the top of the third, fourth and fifth innings. Hoyle doubled home Ross Heffley in the top of the third inning with Attaway driving home Dykota Spiess - who walked three times on the day - for the second run in the fourth. In the fifth inning, a bases loaded double play allowed Jones to scamper home to make it 3-0 through four and a half innings.
The Owl first baseman Andy Chriscaden hit the first of two solo home runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to trim WCU's advantage to two, 3-1. Chriscaden finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks including an intentional pass, scoring three times.
For the second-consecutive night, the sixth inning proved to be profitable for Kennesaw State. The Owls erased the two-run deficit with a four-spot on three hits in the home half of the frame to lead 5-3.
In the top of the eighth inning, WCU scratched the scoreboard for two runs to tie the game at five. The Catamounts loaded the bases with two outs as White and pinch hitter Luke Gragg singled and Jones walked. Then, WCU drew back-to-back RBI walks including free passes issued to Martin and Urquhart Jr., to plate the two runs.
All told, WCU drew 13 walks from Owl pitching on Wednesday night, but stranded 17 base runners.
Chriscaden hit his second home run in the bottom of the eighth to give the Owls the lead back, 6-5, through eight innings setting up Ridings' ninth-inning heroics.
In the top of the 10th inning, Martin laced a single through the left side where he was successfully sacrificed into scoring position by Dale Urquhart Jr. On a 1-1 pitch, Strong doubled to right field with Martin racing home to score the go-ahead run for the Catamounts.
Jeremy Null worked three solid innings in a scheduled limited starting role, striking out one with a pair of walks. He gave way to Jon Nadale in the fourth, pitching two and a third innings, surrendering two runs on two hits with two strikeouts against one walk. The Catamount bullpen pieced it together with Andrew Blackwell, Hunter Brister, Tyler Powell and Vance Chavis combining to toss an inning and two-thirds to get the game to Hatcher in the eighth inning.
KSU's Andrew Austin (0-3) took the loss, giving up two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings of relief work, striking out and walking one.
Western Carolina opens a four-game home stand with a three-game Southern Conference series against the Davidson Wildcats this weekend at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. First pitch on Friday evening is scheduled for 6:00 pm with Saturday slated to start at 2:00 pm and Sunday's finale at 1:00 pm.
All three games of the SoCon series will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with streaming audio available online at www.CatamountSports.com. Live streaming video through Catamount All-Access (subscription required) will be available online for both Friday and Sunday's games.