April 14, 2010
Clemson, S.C. - Tyler Kirkpatrick blasted a seventh-inning grand slam home run and the Catamount pitching staff held No. 16 Clemson hitless over the final four innings as Western Carolina rallied to upset the Tigers, 7-5, Wednesday night in mid-week, non-conference action at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The win was just the fourth all-time for WCU over Clemson on the road, and second for third-year head coach Bobby Moranda since taking over in 2008.
Western Carolina (23-9-1) overcame two separate deficits to score the road victory, remaining unbeaten in mid-week games. The Catamounts fell behind 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Then, after knotting the game at three with a solo run in the fourth and two runs a frame later, Clemson reclaimed its lead in the bottom of the fifth to lead 5-3.
In the seventh, consecutive walks to Dylan de Graaf and Cameron Dullnig followed by an infield bunt single by Matt Johns loaded the bases with no outs. On the first pitch of his at bat, Kirkpatrick, who was named Southern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, blasted a breaking ball over the fence in left centerfield for the grand slam homer for the 7-5 advantage.
Kirkpatrick led the Catamounts with a 3-for-5 showing at the plate with four RBI and two runs scored. Classmate Trevor Collias finished 2-for-3 with a double and a run driven in while Matt Johns stretched his hitting streak to 12-straight games with a 2-for-4 night with a pair of singles.
Freshman Mat Batts gave up the three runs to Clemson in the first inning in the start, adding one strikeout before giving way to Jeremy Sluder in the second. The walk-on freshman worked three and two-thirds, silencing the Tigers, holding Clemson to two runs on two hits with three strikeouts.
Adam Curtis tossed a third of an inning in the fifth with Andrew Chilcoat, Brandon Johnson and Daniel Ottone combining to hold Clemson hitless over the final four and a third. Chilcoat (1-0) picked up the win with Ottone tallying his seventh save of the year after working the final two innings of hitless, scoreless relief.
"I am very proud of the poise our team showed tonight in battling back against a very good Clemson team in picking up this key win in a tough place to play," said Mordanda. "I felt that for a second-straight, mid-week outing, Jeremy Sluder did a great job for us in relief. He came in and settled things down for nearly four innings, keeping the Tigers in check while we got rolling on offense. Tyler Kirkpatrick has been tremendous for us over the past couple of weeks, especially with us missing Ross Heffley in the line-up. And Daniel Ottone really closed things on the back-end of a solid bullpen effort tonight."
Tiger reliever Mike Kent (1-1) was saddled with the loss after allowing both seventh inning walks and hits, surrendering all four runs in the frame. Starter Dominic Leone worked the first six innings, scattering six hits and three runs to factor in the no decision.
Western Carolina travels to Elon for a three-game Southern Conference series with the Phoenix beginning Friday night at 7:00 pm at Latham Park. Saturday's game is scheduled for 4:00 pm, with Sunday's finale at 1:30 pm. Friday and Saturday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard online at CatamountSports.com with air time 15 minutes prior to first pitch.