April 14, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. -
Behind a four-run fourth inning that consisted of the Catamounts capitalizing on six straight singles, Western Carolina defeated Furman, 9-2, winning its fourth Southern Conference series of the season at home at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. WCU improved to 24-11, 9-5 SoCon while the Paladins dropped to 17-19, 7-10 SoCon. Saturday’s game was also the “Think Pink” game to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Western Carolina wore “Whee Think Pink” T-shirts during batting practice.
Five Catamounts finished with multiple-hit games as Tyler White led the Catamounts offensively going 3-for-4 with 4 RBI batting clean-up. White also scored two of the Catamounts’ nine runs. Though WCU put up 14 hits against the Paladins, none were extra base hits.
Starting pitcher Morgan McKinney pitched six full innings giving up seven hits while only giving up two runs in the win. Four relievers – Jon Nadale, Jeremy Sluder, Hunter Brister and Andrew Blackwell - pitched three innings of shutout baseball with five hits given up by the bullpen.
WCU scored in each of the first five innings, getting the offense started with two Catamounts crossing the plate in the bottom of the first. Short stop Aaron Attaway led off the WCU side of the first with a single to left field after working the count full against Furman starting pitcher Nate Smith. With Attaway on third and two outs, White tallied his first of three consecutive singles to bring across Attaway. An Adam Martin single advanced Tyler White to third base before White would score as the Furman third baseman botched Martin’s ground ball and then threw the ball over the first baseman’s head.
A wild pitch scored Bradley Strong who reached on a bunt single in the bottom of the second while Tyler White’s second single added the fourth Catamount run in the third, giving the Catamounts a 4-1 advantage going into the fourth inning.
The Paladins picked up their final run of the afternoon in the fourth as left fielder Will Owens hit a ground ball to the infield that scored DH Taylor Johnson.
The Catamounts answered with their four-run, fourth inning. Attaway reached first on the first of six consecutive Catamount singles. With the bases loaded following a Ross Heffley single, White would again come up big for the Purple and Gold with a 2 RBI single up the middle. Adam Martin picked up an RBI with a single with Tyler White legging out two bases to reach third. Jacob Hoyle picked up an RBI with his pinch hit single to right field, adding the fourth run of the inning with the Martin run.
McKinney continued to throw for the Catamounts through the sixth, with reliever Jon Nadale entering in the top of the seventh. Nadale gave the Catamounts 1.1 innings, facing eight. Andrew Blackwell closed things out for WCU relieving Hunter Brister in the ninth with a Paladin on first. Following a Muzika line out to Aaron Attaway for the first out, center fielder Will Miller grounded out into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Furman starter Nate Smith got the loss for the Paladins, going 3.1 innings, giving up eight hits and seven runs – five of which were earned. McKinney earned the win for the Catamounts, improving to 5-1 on the season.
“I thought we played really well today,” said head coach Bobby Moranda. “We played well defensively, turning a few big double plays. We had some big hits with two strikes today. I thought two strike hitting was the difference today in the game. I thought Tyler White’s approach was outstanding today through the middle of the field. We had a few two-out RBI and those are backbreakers for opposing teams. Morgan [McKinney] made some big pitches when he needed to and competed. He just competes. The bullpen came in and helped us out in a big way. They all came in and threw strikes and did exactly what we needed them to do.”
The Catamounts look for the sweep of the Paladins tomorrow at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium with first pitch slated for 2:00 p.m. Western Carolina will throw freshman Jeremy Null (RHP, 4-1, 5.45 ERA) as the Paladins look to counter with Tyler Wood (RHP, 3-4, 4.88 ERA).