Clinton, S.C. - Andrew Bullock's bases loaded single in the top of the eighth inning pushed Western Carolina ahead for good on Tuesday afternoon to cap-off a solid career-long seven-inning relief outing on the mound by Dillon Bray. The Catamounts extended their winning streak to seven-straight games with a 9-6 road victory over Presbyterian in midweek nonconference action at the PC Baseball Complex.
The win snapped a four-game winless drought for WCU in nonconference midweek games, marking the first victory outside of a weekend game since the Monday win over then No. 20 N.C. State back on March 6.
WCU (16-15) overcame an early, 5-1, deficit with a four-run top of the third inning that included a two-run home run by Cameron Blaquiere -- his third home run in the past two games. The Catamounts reclaimed the lead in the top of the sixth inning as Matt Smith drove in the go-ahead marker on a bases loaded sacrifice fly. Presbyterian answered in the bottom of the frame, utilizing one of three Catamount errors on the day to score an unearned run on an infield ground out.
Tied at six through seven complete, WCU pulled ahead for good in the top of the eighth inning, loading the bases on two HBP's and a walk. Bullock then singled into left field to score Nobu Suzuki for what proved to be the game-winning run. In the top of the ninth, Matthew Koehler doubled and later scored on a wild pitch while Blaquiere reached on an infield bunt single and eventually crossed the plate on a passed ball for the second insurance marker that provided the final tally.
Five different Catamounts posted multi-hit games on Tuesday, led by Blaquiere and redshirt senior Bryson Bowman who both collected three of hits apiece in 3-for-5 showings at the plate as the Catamounts totaled 16 hits on the day. Bowman extended his reached base safely streak to 31-straight games -- every game WCU has played this season -- while also tallying hits in 16-consecutive.
Juniors Brett Pope (2-for-6) and Caleb Robinson (2-for-4) both tallied two hits apiece while Koehler, who did not start the game, finished 2-for-2 with a double. Senior Nobu Suzuki stretched his hitting streak to 10-straight with a single, reaching base for the 15th-straight game. He added a walk and was plunked twice to reach base four times in the winning effort.
Despite the offensive barrage of double-digit hits for the third-straight game -- and fourth time in the past five outings -- WCU again struggled by stranding 13 runners on base on Tuesday.
While the offense was finding ways to score runs, Bray (1-3) was strong on the mound in relief of senior starter Chad Mabini. Bray, a fifth-year senior who closed Sunday's series finale at ETSU, took over in the third inning and limited the Blue Hose to one unearned run on just two hits, working around three walks with a trio of strikeouts. Mabini also walked three with one strikeout, surrendering five runs on just five hits.
Presbyterian's seven hits were spread between five different players with Tyler Weyenberg and A.J. Priaulx both collecting two hits apiece including a second inning two-run homer by Priaulx that built the four-run advantage for the home squad.
Blue Hose reliever Robert Moss (2-1) was saddled with the loss, one of six PC pitchers to throw in Tuesday's game. Moss was tagged for just one run on one hit through an inning and a third. Starter Colton Springs gave up four runs on five hits with three walks through two and two-thirds innings.
Western Carolina returns home to host the Furman Paladins (11-20, 1-8 SoCon) in a three-game conference set that begins Thursday evening at 5:00 pm. Game two is Friday at 5:00 pm before concluding on Saturday afternoon with a 2:00 pm first pitch. Live GameTracker through CatamountSports.com will be available for all three games of the SoCon series, while games one and two are slated to be broadcast on the SoCon Digital Network with live streaming video available online.