April 6, 2014
Greensboro, N.C. - Western Carolina starter Jordan Smith tossed his fourth career complete game, limiting UNCG to just one run as the Catamounts completed the three-game sweep of the Spartans with a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
Smith, a native of Liberty, N.C., held the SoCon's top-hitting team to one run on eight hits, allowing just one for extra bases. With the game still hanging in the balance, he retired six-straight between the sixth and eighth innings after WCU had pulled back in front, recording three of his five strikeouts during that span. With five Ks in the win, Smith now has 243 career strikeouts to move into sixth on WCU's career ledger, by-passing former left-hander Chris Masters (241, 2007-09).
Smith (5-2) made his 52nd career start on Sunday, taking sole possession of second in WCU's career record books just one shy of all-time record holder, Jack Kimel (53, 1989-92). He also moved into a tie for seventh in school history with his 22nd career win, matching former Catamount Jerry Reed (1974-77).
Western Carolina (20-9, 8-1 SoCon) took the early lead in the top of the second inning as senior Dykota Spiess drove one of his two singles on the day up the middle to score sophomore Danny Bermudez for the 1-0 lead. Two innings later, UNCG's Sean Guite tied the game at one with a lead-off home run that just skirted the left field fence.
The decisive inning came in the top of the sixth for WCU. Junior Bradley Strong drew a lead-off walk before promptly stealing second to move a runner into scoring position. Senior Cody Jones then flared a double down the left field line to score Strong to put the Catamounts back in front, 2-1. Senior Adam Martin then flew out to left for a productive out as Jones tagged at second and advanced to third base before Jacob Hoyle plated him on a sacrifice fly to left field for the two-run edge.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Catamounts worked out of jam as UNCG had runners at second and third with one out. Smith got a fly ball out to center field before striking out designated hitter L.J. Kalawaia to end the threat.
WCU worked a perfect bottom of the seventh before working around two-out singles in both the eighth and ninth to secure the victory, the team's ninth-consecutive. Dating back to last season, the Catamounts have won 10-straight SoCon series while also winning 24 of their last 26 league games.
Spiess paced WCU with two singles in a 2-for-4 showing at the plate with a RBI, while Jones and Hoyle also drove in runs.
For the Spartans (14-16, 2-6 SoCon), Guite led seven players with hits, recording a 2-for-3 outing with the solo home run and the only marker for UNCG. Starter Dylan Thompson (1-3) took the loss, allowing three runs - two earned - on seven hits with two strikeouts against a pair of freebies including a walk and hit batter.
Western Carolina has five games scheduled next week including four at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The Catamounts host Presbyterian on Tuesday before traveling to UNC Asheville on Wednesday in the back-end of a nonconference home-and-home. WCU returns to league play next weekend with a three-game series against Furman at home.