April 1, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Sophomore Cody Jones finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored while freshman Bradley Strong drove in three as Western Carolina claimed the Southern Conference series Sunday rubber match over Davidson, 5-3, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. Behind Jones' three-single outing, WCU pounded out 14 hits in the victory.
Freshman starter Jeremy Null (4-0) tossed seven solid innings to earn the victory, striking out six against three walks through seven innings. The Claremont, N.C., native scattered five base hits while holding Davidson to three earned runs on the afternoon.
"I liked that we were able to fight back after not playing very well last night," said WCU head coach Bobby Moranda. "Our pitchers did a great job on the mound today. Playing at home, we want to win every series - especially conference games. Today was a very important win for us."
WCU improved to 20-9 overall on the year including a 6-3 mark in SoCon play. Davidson dropped to 10-15 on the season, 3-9 in league action.
In addition to the strong showing at the plate by Jones, Strong finished 2-for-4 with three RBI.
Western Carolina started the bottom of the first inning with three-consecutive hits capped by an RBI double by Ross Heffley to drive in Tyler White from second base to tally the first run of the game. In the home portion of the second inning, WCU again lit the scoreboard for a solo run as Dykota Spiess doubled before being plated on a RBI single by Julian Ridings, who finished with two hits on the afternoon.
Davidson got on the board in the top of the third with a solo homerun by Jake Berman, his first of two round-trippers on the day. Berman finished 2-for-4 with three RBI to lead the Wildcats.
The Catamounts answered Berman's homerun with runs of their own in the bottom of the third. With runners on second and third, Strong singled through the right side of the infield to score both Jones and Jacob Hoyle, who along with Adam Martin singled to load the bases. WCU led 4-1, through three innings.
Berman hit his second homerun of the day to pull Davidson back within one run of WCU's 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning, bringing in Calvin Sigelbaum from third base. Sigelbaum reached on a two-out triple hit to the gap in right-centerfield.
The Catamounts would add an insurance run in the fifth inning as Jones reached first safely with a single to right field to lead things off for the Catamounts. A stolen base put Jones on third before Dykota Spiess was hit by relief pitcher Rob Bain. A hit-and-run by Strong scored Jones - the final Catamount run of the game - and moved Spiess to third with one out. The Wildcats avoided further damage in the inning by throwing out Strong who was caught stealing second and grounding out Julian Ridings.
Tyler Powell came in to relieve Null at the start the eighth inning. Powell pitched an inning and a third, only allowing one hit and recording a strikeout. Giving up his only hit in the top of the ninth, Moranda went back to the bullpen for redshirt senior Vance Chavis with one on and one gone in the top of the final frame. A native of Laurinburg, N.C., Chavis induced a game-ending double play as he got Wildcat short stop Michael Zeblo to ground out - but the play was not without its theatrics. Zeblo laced a shot up the middle, just to the right of the second base bag. Second baseman, Heffley, sprinted to his right, dove to collect the ground ball. Without removing the ball from his mitt, the preseason All-America selection flipped the ball to shortstop Aaron Attaway with his glove to begin the 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
WCU turned three double plays on Sunday as part of six turned by the Catamounts in the three-game series.
Chavis was credited with his second save of the season while facing only one batter.
Wildcat starter Danny Mooney (1-2) took the loss after allowing four earned runs on eight hits after being chased in the third inning. Second reliever out of the bullpen, Ryan Lowe - who started the game as the designated hitter - recorded the only three strikeouts by Davidson pitching tossing three innings in relief while holding WCU scoreless on only one hit.
In addition to Berman's 2-for-4 outing, second baseman James Cerbie was also 2-for-4 with Sigelbaum tallying the third Davidson run in the loss.
Western Carolina concludes a four-game home stand on Tuesday night as it returns to action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The Catamounts face the Georgia Bulldogs for the second time this season, upending the eighth-ranked Bulldogs, 5-3, in Athens, Ga., back on February 29. First pitch is slated for 5:00 pm Tuesday evening.