April 4, 2012
Clemson, S.C. - Western Carolina pounded out a season-high 22 hits on Wednesday night as it completed its first-ever, home-and-home sweep over the Clemson Tigers with a 13-8 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Wednesday marked the eighth time since the two began playing a home-and-home series in 1978 that the Catamounts had a chance to complete the two-game sweep after claiming the first game, winning in Cullowhee, 8-4, in mid-March. Seven times prior, the Catamounts had won the front end of the two-game series only to see Clemson rally to take the back-end to split the two meetings.
However, after seeing its early lead evaporate with a four-run home half of the fifth, Western Carolina responded with eight unanswered runs including four in both the top of the sixth and seventh innings to pull out the victory.
Eight of WCU's nine players posted multiple hits including a game-high four by junior Tyler White and three apiece for senior Ross Heffley and sophomores Adam Martin and Julian Ridings. White finished 4-for-6 with three singles, a double and two runs driven in while Martin posted the Catamounts' only other extra base hit with a two-RBI triple down the right field line.
Western Carolina (21-9) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, and led by the same margin at 4-1 before the Tigers clawed back within a run at 4-3 with two runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Jones drew a one-out walk to get things started in the first inning, advancing to third on Ross Heffley's single to right-center. White reached on an infield single that scored Jones, then Dykota Spiess walked after being down in the count 0-2 to load the bases. Martin lined a single to right-center to plate Heffley before Luke Gragg lofted a sacrifice fly to left-center to score White, giving Western Carolina a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first inning, Jay Baum walked with one out and Richie Shaffer grounded a single through the left side. Phil Pohl followed with a line-drive single down the left-field line to score Baum. The Catamounts responded with a run in the top of the second inning. Jones lined a two-out single to center and Heffley walked. White followed with a single to left-center to score Jones.
Clemson tied the game at four in the home half of the fourth inning before WCU managed to reclaim the lead, 5-4, in the top of the fifth.
Clemson used a three-RBI triple by Thomas Brittle, capitalizing on two walks and a hit batsman, as a part of a four-run fifth inning that pushed the Tigers ahead, 8-5, through five innings. Brittle finished 2-for-3 with the three RBI while Richie Shaffer - who was held without a hit in four plate appearances in the first meeting -finished 3-for-5 with two RBI for Clemson. Steve Wilkerson added the only other extra base hit for Clemson, a double as a part of a 2-for-5 night.
The Catamounts then scored eight-unanswered runs in the top of the sixth and seventh innings combined to pull away for the five-run victory.
WCU regained the lead in the sixth thanks in large part to a costly Tiger error. Heffley led off with a single to right-center and advanced to third on White's bloop double down the right-field line. Gragg then hit a two-out grounder to Wilkerson at second, who booted the ball, allowing Heffley and White to score. Strong followed with a single through the left side, then Ridings walked to load the bases. Attaway gave Western Carolina the lead back with a single through the left side on an 0-2 pitch that scored Gragg and Strong. The single also extended Attaway's hitting streak to 12 games.
In the seventh inning, the Catamounts added four more runs to their lead. White hit a one-out single to left-center, then Spiess grounded a single through the right side. Martin followed with a triple down the right-field line to score White and Spiess, then Gragg singled up the middle to score Martin. Two batters later, Attaway grounded a two-out single up the middle to score Gragg.
WCU was very opportunistic, capitalizing on five walks issued by Tiger pitching and four errors committed by the home squad in the win.
Senior Andrew Blackwell (1-0) scored the victory in relief for the Catamounts as one of eight pitchers used by head coach Bobby Moranda. The Pisgah Forest, N.C., native scattered three hits through the inning and two thirds he tossed out of the bullpen, working around one walk.
Junior Adam Curtis received a no-decision in the start, working an inning and a third before being lifted in the second inning. Curtis surrendered three runs on five hits with a pair of walks, giving way to fellow southpaw, Jon Nadale. The junior transfer from Petaloma, Calif., tossed two and a third in relief, scattering three hits and holding the Tigers to a single run until a strained muscle in his pitching forearm forced him to the bench in the fourth inning.
The Catamount bullpen of Tyler Powell, Hunter Brister, and Blackwell got the game into the seventh inning with a WCU lead. Friday night starter Jordan Smith made his first collegiate relief appearance for an inning, retiring Clemson in order in the bottom of the seventh inning, with redshirt senior Vance Chavis striking out the side with one hit allowed in the eighth.
Catamount closer Preston Hatcher regained some of his swagger in the ninth inning of the non-save opportunity, striking out two in a perfect frame.
Clemson (15-14) reliever Patrick Andrews (0-1) was saddled with the loss as one of seven pitchers used by Jack Leggett and the Tigers. Andrews allowed four unearned runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in one inning of work.
Western Carolina returns to Southern Conference play with a three-game series scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:00 pm with coverage on the Catamount Sports Network, online at CatamountSports.com, getting underway at 5:45 pm.