April 15, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. - After racing out to a four-run lead through the first two frames, Western Carolina broke open a one-run game with eight runs in the sixth and seventh innings including six in the previous en route to a 12-4 victory over Georgia Southern on Friday afternoon. The Catamounts pounded out a dozen hits and capitalized on three Eagle errors to take the opener of the three-game Southern Conference series at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for 3:00 pm on Saturday afternoon. Fans can follow all of the action online with live GameTracker, or through the Georgia Southern radio broadcast with play-by-play announcer, Ryan Chambers, with a 2:30 pm air time.
WCU junior Ross Heffley drove in four runs on a 4-for-5 performance including his team-leading 14th double of the season while Cameron Dullnig plated three runners with a 2-for-4 outing including his seventh two-bagger of the year. Senior Stephen Notaro was also 2-for-4 with a pair of singles while classmate Matt Johns doubled down the left field line as a part of a two RBI afternoon.
Matt Benedict (2-2) turned in another solid starting performance, picking up the victory after scattering eight base hits and four runs through eight innings. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native worked around three walks with four strikeouts, combining with sophomore reliever TJ Page to strand eight Eagle base runners. Page, who hails from Savannah, Ga. - less than an hour from GSU's Statesboro campus - faced four batters in the ninth, surrendering a leadoff bunt single before retiring three fly outs to the outfield.
Freshman Adam Martin put Western Carolina on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Dullnig drew a one-out walk and was moved to second on a single by Heffley before Martin poked the first pitch of his at bat through the left side for an RBI single.
An inning later, the Catamounts pulled out to a four-run advantage, scoring all three runs after two were out in the frame. Notaro singled and Luke Gragg walked before a consecutive outs threatened to strand the runners. Dullnig then drove a two-RBI double to right center and was later scored on an RBI single by Heffley to make it 4-0.
Georgia Southern (20-15, 9-4 SoCon) netted solo runs in each inning from the fourth through the sixth to close the margin back to one, 4-3. Steve Cochrane doubled home Michael Burruss in the fourth with Stryker Brown beating out an infield bunt single with the throw sailing at first allowing Garren Palmer to score from second on the play. Victor Roache then blasted his SoCon-leading 16th home run of the season in the sixth inning for the Eagles.
The Catamounts managed to stem the tide, though, pushing across six runs on four hits while sending 11 batters to the plate in the home portion of the sixth. Tyler White started the rally with a lead-off single up the middle and was later hit by a pitch in the frame. Aaron Attaway drove in the first run on a ground out to score White with Dullnig reaching on an error to bring in the second run. Heffley doubled to left field to bring home a pair with Johns sneaking a double down the left field line to cap the scoring.
Western Carolina (14-17-1, 5-11 SoCon) took advantage of consecutive errors in the GSU infield in the seventh to score a pair of runs with Dullnig and Heffley both driving in one on singles, scoring Attaway and Austin Schultz, respectively.
Georgia Southern starter Chris Beck (5-1) was saddled with his first loss of the season, allowing 10 runs - only five of which were earned - on 10 hits. Beck walked four and struck out five in five and two thirds innings. Will Middour tossed an inning and a third allowing two unearned runs on two hits with Chris Myers retiring the Catamounts in order in the eighth inning.
Brown was the lone Eagle with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3 with the remaining seven hits scattered between seven batters. Roache homered for GSU while Cochran doubled for the only extra base hits.