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Opportunistic Offense Leads WCU to Series Win over Samford

Morgan McKinney struck out four in seven innings of work Saturday in WCU's win over Samford. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

April 13, 2013

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina plated runs in all but one inning in which it took swings on Saturday afternoon, pounding out 18 hits including 11 for extra bases and capitalizing on 11 walks as the Catamounts rolled past the Samford Bulldogs, 21-7, in Southern Conference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

With the win, the Catamounts claim their fifth SoCon series of the season and will look for their first series sweep on Sunday in game three. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

Western Carolina (21-16, 11-6 SoCon) jumped out to a 5-0 lead through the first two innings before the Bulldogs were able to scratch the scoreboard four times in the top of the third inning to trim the margin back to one, 5-4. However, after being held scoreless in the bottom of the third inning, the Catamounts erupted for three-or-more runs in four of the remaining five frames to cruise to the victory.

Returning to the starting lineup on Saturday, junior catcher Adam Martin led four Catamounts with multiple hit games with a career-high tying four base hits in a 4-for-4 outing. The product of Marietta, Ga., who has been nursing a broken finger on his catching hand, doubled and homered in the win, scoring three times and driving in two in the win.

Senior Tyler White posted a 3-for-5 outing, doubling twice and hitting his team-leading ninth home run of the season while Julian Ridings remained hot at the plate, going 3-for-6 with a two-bag hit. Aaron Attaway drove in a team-best four runs on a 1-for-3 showing but did hit his seventh home run of the year on a towering three-run shot to left in the six-run fifth inning.



Combined, eight different Catamounts recorded multiple RBIs games in the win as WCU had a season-high 20 RBI. The 21 runs were also a season-best for WCU - and the most in a game since scoring 22 against Iona in a 22-2 victory on March 3, 2012. It also marked the most runs in a league game for WCU since plating 25 against Wofford on April 24, 2011 (W, 25-14 in Cullowhee).

All told, 14 different Catamounts took swings on Saturday with WCU also stranding 14 runners on base.

On the hill, redshirt senior starter Morgan McKinney (2-2) sat the first six batters down in a row to start his outing on Saturday, tossing seven innings to score his second victory of the year. He scattered seven base hits while allowing four runs - only one of which was earned - with a walk and four strikeouts.

Relievers Colton Davis and Bryce Danielson tossed the final two innings with Davis allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and strikeout in two thirds of an inning before Danielson faced five batters, allowing one hit in an inning and a third of relief.

Ahead by just a run in the top of the fourth, WCU used three-straight extra base hits to stretch its lead over the Bulldogs. White homered to center field, just to the right of the batter's eye, to open scoring with consecutive doubles by Jacob Hoyle and Dykota Spiess with the second plating the second marker of the frame. Attaway later drove in the third run of the inning on a bases loaded walk.

In the fifth, the Catamounts sent 11 hitters to the plate in pushing across six runs to break open the contest. Sophomore Austin Neary delivered his second pinch hit double of the series, driving in the first run. Bradley Strong drove in two with a sharp single to right field before Attaway skied a three-run home run that landed beyond the left field fence.

Strong added an RBI double in the sixth inning with Martin hammering a two-run homer to left center to cap a three-run sixth inning.

Neary drove in a run with a bases loaded sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to make it 18-4.

Samford (19-17, 8-9 SoCon) scored three runs on five hits in the top of the fifth inning off reliever Davis, loading the bases on three-straight singles with Patrick McGavin halting a run of 13-straight WCU runs by drawing a bases loaded walk to score a run. Waller plated a run with a single to left with Gonzalez concluding Samford's scoring with a run-scoring single to right.

WCU got the three runs back in the home half of the eighth as Reece Strong led off with a walk before scoring on an infield error by Samford. White doubled to left to plate a run with Hoyle flying out to left for a run-scoring sacrifice fly.

Irby, who also took the loss for the Bulldogs on the mound in his shortest outing of the season, led the Bulldogs offensively with a 3-for-5 showing at the plate. Brandon Powell and Damon Waller both came in as defensive substitutions in the game, finishing 2-for-2 at the plate. Tommy Corbin collected the only extra base hit of the game for Samford with a double in a 1-for-3 outing.

Irby (5-3) was chased after just an inning and two thirds, surrendering five runs - four of which were earned - on just three hits. He managed to strikeout four, but gave up five freebies including four walks as Samford pitching gave up 11 base on balls in the game and plunked three batters. The Bulldogs also committed four errors in the field including a catcher's interference call in the loss.

The final game of the three-game series is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Sunday. Western Carolina will send junior RHP Jordan Smith (1-3, 4.26 ERA) to the mound on Sunday while Samford counters with RHP Cole Limbaugh (3-1, 5.61 ERA). Fans can follow online with live video streaming (subscription) through Catamount All-Access or live GameTracker (free) through Live audio from the Samford Sports Network can be heard online as well.