April 7, 2013
Greenville, S.C. - Furman scored three runs over the final two frames of regulation to erase the 3-0 Western Carolina advantage the Catamounts enjoyed for six innings on Sunday afternoon, sending the game into extra innings on Jordan Simpson's first career home run. WCU outlasted the Paladins, though, pushing across six runs in the decisive 12th inning to win the rubber match and Southern Conference series with a 9-3 victory at Latham Stadium.
Sunday's extra inning affair was WCU's fourth of the season and the second-consecutive overtime win, both coming in league play. The Catamounts also won their fourth SoCon series - and third on the road - by a count of two games to one.
Western Carolina (19-15, 9-6 SoCon) finished with 11 hits in the 12-inning affair with junior shortstop Aaron Attaway pacing the squad with four hits. The Morganton, N.C., native hit for the cycle, blasting a solo home run to lead-off the third inning, doubling in the fifth before tripling down the right field line in the ninth inning. In extra innings, Attaway reached the cycle by dropping a single into right field.
Catamount closer Preston Hatcher (4-2) picked up the victory in relief - his second of the weekend - tossing four and two thirds out of the bullpen. Hatcher surrendered two runs on two hits, pitching around a pair of walks. Sunday's outing was the longest of the season for the preseason All-America selection, and Hatcher's longest since throwing five innings in back-to-back appearances in 2011.
WCU starter Jordan Smith worked a strong seven innings in the starting role, scattering four hits and pitching around four walks with four strikeouts. The one run he allowed scored after he left the game with a 4-3 lead. Reliever Tyler Powell worked around two walks with a strikeout in tossing a third of an inning before Hatcher came on in the eighth inning.
Jacob Hoyle collected his first of three hits on the day with an RBI chopper up the middle in the first inning to plate Julian Ridings who walked with one out to give the Catamounts a 1-0 lead. Attaway and Hoyle hit dueling solo homers in the third as the Catamounts stretched their advantage to three, 3-0, through three complete.
Hoyle drove in two on a 3-for-4 showing at the plate in the win while Ridings collected two hits.
Three-run advantage remained until the eighth inning when a bases loaded walk drove in Furman's first run as Paul Nitto reached on the free pass to trim the margin to three, 4-1. Furman loaded the bases with no outs on a single and consecutive walks before Powell came on to strikeout Taylor Johnson for the first out. Nitto then walked to score the run with Hatcher getting a fly to center and infield groundout to end the threat.
In the ninth, pinch hitter Jake Jones drew a one-out walk ahead of Simpson who hit a 0-1 pitch out of the ball park to knot the game at three. Hatcher got another fly out to left center and a ground out to third to force extra innings.
WCU got men aboard in both the 10th and 11th but could not manufacture a run, sitting the Paladins down in order in both frames to set-up the 12th inning rally.
Ridings opened with a double down the right field line off Furman reliever Drake Browne. White was plunked by a pitch to put two aboard for the pitcher Hatcher, who was pressed into two at bats after WCU burned the DH position with a ninth inning substitution. Hatcher, in just his second collegiate at bat, put down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with one out.
Furman intentionally walked Dykota Spiess to load the bases for the force at any bag before Browne rallied for a strikeout for the second out. The Catamounts then capitalized on a wild pitch that skipped past replacement catcher Zack Greenwell allowing Ridings to scamper home for the go-ahead marker. Browne then walked Cody Jones to again load the bases for WCU, chasing Browne as the Paladins went back to the bullpen.
On the first pitch reliever Ryan Dittmar hurled towards second baseman Bradley Strong, the Richlands, Va., native drove a shot to right center field, clearing the bases with three RBI and a four-run lead. Danny Bermudez walked to continue the two-out rally with both Ridings and Attaway delivering RBI singles to cap the six-run explosion for WCU with the Catamounts leading 9-3.
In the bottom of the 12th, Hatcher and the Catamounts worked around a lead-off single and a two-out walk with a ground ball to the left side by Chris Ohmstede handled by White with the third baseman winning a foot race to the bag at third for the final force out securing the victory.
Browne (1-2) took the loss for the Paladins after surrendering four runs on one hit with two walks and the wild pitch. Starter Jake Wolff was chased after four innings, allowing three runs on three hits. The Paladin bullpen kept the Catamounts off the board for seven innings allowing their offense to rally with both Alex Abrams and Matt Solter tossing three scoreless and Elliott Warford holding WCU off the scoreboard for three outs.
Both teams walked nine hitters on the afternoon in the 12-inning contest.
Western Carolina returns to the friendly confines of Childress Field / Hennon Stadium to host former coach, Jack Leggett, and the Clemson Tigers on Tuesday, April 9. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 pm.