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Baseball Splits Saturday Doubleheader, Wins SoCon Series

Morgan McKinney scattered nine hits in five and two thirds in his start against The Citadel, fanning 10 against just one walk. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

March 31, 2013

Game One Box Score |  Game Two Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina split Saturday's Southern Conference doubleheader as Aaron Attaway delivered a walk-off hit in the ninth inning to give the Catamounts a 5-4 victory in game one before The Citadel rallied to take the night cap by the same margin.

Coupled with WCU's one-run win on Friday evening, the Catamounts took the three-game Southern Conference series, 2-to-1. It was the third-straight regular season series victory for the Catamounts while also marking the fifth-straight home series win for WCU over The Citadel dating back to 2005.

Julian Ridings led the Catamounts in Saturday's twin-bill, finishing 4-for-7 (.571) with an RBI while Tyler White hit two doubles as a part of a 4-for-9 (.444) day. Dykota Spiess drove in two on his first home run of the season while Austin Neary also belted a round-tripper with both Catamount homers coming in game one.

WCU's pitchers combined for 18 strikeouts while The Citadel fanned 15 in the two-game set.

Western Carolina returns to the diamond for two midweek nonconference games against mountain-rival, UNC Asheville. WCU hosts the Bulldogs at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium on Tuesday evening with first pitch at 5:00 pm before facing the same squad on Wednesday at historic McCormick Field in Asheville with first pitch at 6:00 pm.

Game One - Western Carolina 5, The Citadel 4:
Tied at four entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Western Carolina got back-to-back extra base hits from its Morganton, N.C., connection to plate the game-winning run to take the opening game of the doubleheader and to win the series. Spiess laced a one-out double to right center field before Attaway stepped into the box and drove one to left center allowing his former Patton High teammate to score without a throw for the 5-4 victory.

The Citadel took an early lead in the first inning as Mason Davis scored on a Joe Jackson single through the right side with Jackson coming home on a Tyler Griffin RBI single to center for the 2-0 lead. WCU managed to cut the deficit in half as Neary circled the bases on a one-out solo home run to left, driving a 0-2 pitch over the fence to get on the scoreboard.

In the second inning, Bradley Strong reached on a one-out single before stealing second base. With two outs, Spiess blasted his first homer of the season on the first pitch he saw, handing WCU a 3-2 advantage through two. However, the Bulldogs got a solo shot from Jackson to knot the game a three where it would remain until the final three frames.

The Citadel again claimed a lead in the top of the seven as Bo Thompson circled the bases on a two-out solo home run to put the Cadets up, 4-3.

Western Carolina rallied with two runs in the final two frames, capped by Attaway's run-scoring hit. In the eighth, White led off with a sharp single up the middle before Ridings sacrificed him into scoring position with a bunt. A ground-out to the right side advanced White to third before Jacob Hoyle delivered a pinch-hit single to center to tie the game 4-4, setting up the ninth-inning heroics.

All told, WCU had three players record multiple-hit games including three by Spiess (3-for-4) and two-apiece by Attaway and Ridings.

Catamount starting pitcher Morgan McKinney settled after surrendering the two runs in the top of the first, finishing with a career-high tying 10 strikeouts while walking just one. The Gainesville, Fla., southpaw worked five and two-thirds innings, scattering nine hits and allowing just three earned runs. He gave way to freshman Jonathan Waszak who tossed two and a third in relief, giving up one run on the Thompson homer with a strikeout. Waszak came on with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and induced a ground ball to end the Bulldog threat.

Tyler Powell pitched around two walks with a strikeout in tossing two thirds of an inning in the top of the ninth with senior closer Preston Hatcher (2-2) recorded the final out in the top of the final frame to pick-up the victory out of the bullpen.

For The Citadel, starter Logan Cribb worked five innings with five strikeouts, giving up three runs on seven hits. Closer Hunter Skylar (1-3) only threw a third of an inning before giving up the two hits including the walk-off knock by Attaway in suffering the loss for the Bulldogs. Jackson and Griffin both finished with two hits apiece for The Citadel.

Game Two - The Citadel 5, Western Carolina 4
In the night cap, The Citadel scored all five of its runs in the final three frames including a three-run home run by Tyler Griffin in the seventh to rally past Western Carolina, 5-4, preventing the three-game sweep.

WCU starter Jordan Smith was perfect through the first three innings, sitting down the first nine batters he faced before allowing a double to left field to the lead-off man in the fourth. The Liberty, N.C., product held The Citadel to three runs on just three hits, pitching around three walks with four strikeouts in six and two thirds innings, factoring in the no-decision.

Catamount reliever Tyler Powell (1-2) was tagged with the loss as his lead-off walk in the top of the ninth resulted in the game-winning run for the Bulldogs. He officially threw a third of an inning in his team-leading 20th appearance of the season, walking and striking out one.

The Catamounts broke a scoreless tie in the home half of the third inning by scoring three runs with two outs, doing so on five base hits to take a 3-0 lead. Strong opened the inning with a single to left center where Danny Bermudez sacrificed him to second base. With two outs, Ridings singled through left side to plate Strong to open the scoring. White then doubled to left field, plating Ridings for the 2-0 lead. A third-straight hit by Hoyle brought home the third WCU run.

In the fourth, Strong reached on an infield single before taking advantage of a two-base throwing error on a failed pick-off attempt at first base. Bermudez then drove him home on a double down the right field line to hand the Catamounts a 4-0 advantage it would enjoy until the seventh inning.

The Citadel cashed in back-to-back walks as Griffin cut the WCU edge to one with a three-run home run to right center field. The Catamounts stemmed the tide, though, getting two-straight outs before the Bulldogs put Calvin Orth on base with an infield single. Reliever Hunter Brister again came on from the pen and shut the door, inducing a ground ball out to second as WCU retained its one-run lead. Brister tossed one inning in relief.

A one-out double by Drew DeKerlegand in the eighth set-up the Bulldogs for the game-tying marker as Thompson singled through the right side to score the runner from third, knotting the game at four.

The Bulldogs got their own ninth-inning heroics as Johnathan Stokes led off with a five-pitch walk before Hatcher was summoned from the bullpen. A pinch hit sacrifice bunt by Brett Bullard put the go-ahead run at second base with Orth plating what proved to be the game-winner on a single that dropped into right-center. WCU kept it at a one-run game by recording an out in a run-down at home plate before Hatcher fanned DeKerlegand to end the frame.

Looking to answer in the home half, Bermudez drew a one-out walk after a 10-pitch at bat with Attaway putting two aboard with a single up the middle. However, Ridings was called out on strikes and White bounced out to short on a close play at first to end the inning with The Citadel taking game two. Bulldog shortstop, Stokes, made a nice play on the backhand and a near-perfect throw to just barely get White at first base.

White finished 3-for-5 in the game to pace the Catamounts while Ridings and Strong both collected two hits apiece.

David Rivera (4-0) picked up the win for The Citadel in his second appearance of the day, tossing an inning and two thirds out of the pen. Skylar Hunter earned his seventh save after working the final two thirds of an inning, striking out one.