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Catamounts Complete Series Sweep Behind Smith's Start on Sunday, 5-2

Julian Ridings finished 3-for-5 on Sunday and hit a sizzling .643 (9-for-14) in the three-game sweep of the Bulldogs. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

April 14, 2013

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina's Jordan Smith scattered eight hits through eight innings of work on Sunday afternoon, holding the Samford Bulldogs to just two runs as the Catamounts completed the series sweep with a 5-2 victory in Southern Conference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

Smith struck out a season-high seven in securing the win, his second victory of the year. The Liberty, N.C., product retired seven-straight batters after allowing a run in the second inning, sitting the Bulldogs down in order in both the third and fourth innings before adding a third perfect frame in the sixth, striking out two.

Offensively, four Catamounts recorded multi-hit games as Julian Ridings and Jacob Hoyle both recorded 3-for-5 outings with one RBI apiece. Ridings, who hit a sizzling .643 (9-for-14) in the three-game sweep of the Bulldogs, belted his fourth home run of the season with Hoyle legging out a double for the only extra base hits of the series finale.

Senior Tyler White finished 2-for-5 with an RBI while sophomore Bradley Strong posted a 2-for-3 showing with a walk.

Samford (19-18, 8-10 SoCon) took an early one-run lead in the top of the second inning as Christiaan Durdaller singled home Damon Waller from second base. Durdaller finished with a team-high two hits on a 2-for-4 outing, matched by C.K. Irby (2-for-5).

The Bulldogs lead stood until the fifth when the Catamounts plated three runs to take a lead they would never relinquish.

Ridings opened the scoring with a solo home run to right center field, tying the game at one. Two batters later, Hoyle doubled to center before taking third on a wild pitch. Dykota Spiess handed the Catamounts its first lead of the afternoon with a RBI single up the middle, driving home Hoyle. WCU would load the bases as Strong was intentionally walked before Adam Martin singled through the left side with Spiess held at third. Cody Jones then fought off a six-pitch at bat, fouling off four pitches before delivering a run-scoring single through the left side to make it 3-1 for the home squad.

In the eighth inning, Samford threatened as Phillip Ervin led off with a single to left center with Smith plunking Drew McWhorter to put two aboard with one out. Jared Watson came on to pinch run for McWhorter with a wild pitch putting the two Bulldog runners in scoring position with two away. Tommy Corbin then laced a single to right field, scoring Ervin with Watson rumbling towards home. However, Cody Jones delivered a strike to Martin at the dish to nail the runner, sustaining the one-run edge, 3-2.

Clinging to the one-run advantage, the Catamounts tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth as Jones reached on an HBP before a Ridings single to left center on a full-count put runners at the corners. Executing a perfect hit-and-run, Ridings sprinted off of first as White sharply singled through the right side to score Jones with Ridings able to advance to third easily. Hoyle then drove in his 34th run of the season with a single through the right side, stretching WCU's lead back to three, 5-2.

The Catamounts turned to preseason All-American closer Preston Hatcher in the ninth inning. The Marietta, Ga., native struck out pinch hitter Brandon Powell before fanning Zeth Stone on three pitches. Amidst the heart of the Samford order, Durdaller drew a two-out walk before Hatcher got C.K. Irby to fly out to Spiess in left to end the game, scoring his eighth save of the year - and the 18th of his career to rank fifth in WCU's record book, one shy of matching former closer - and current Kansas City Royals reliever - Greg Holland (19, 2005-07).

Samford's Cole Limbaugh (3-2) took the loss after allowing three runs on nine hits through four and two thirds. The Bulldog starter was able to strand seven Catamount runners through the first four frames including working out of a bases loaded jam in the third. However, in the fifth, he gave up the lead-off homer to Ridings that tied the game and the RBI single to Spiess that drove home Hoyle before being chased.

WCU later touched up reliever Arthur Strauss for two runs on three hits, recording just a third of an inning out of the bullpen before Ervin came on from left field to pitch the final two thirds of an inning with a strikeout.

Western Carolina continues its current nine-game home stand by hosting the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs on Wednesday evening in Cullowhee before welcoming SoCon foe, Georgia Southern, for a three-game set next weekend. First pitch on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:00 pm.