April 15, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Sophomore Adam Martin finished 4-for-5 at the plate while junior Tyler White was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle on Sunday afternoon as Western Carolina completed the three-game Southern Conference series sweep with an 11-5 victory at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
With the Paladins back within a run at 4-3 following a three-spot by the visitors in the top of the fourth inning, the Catamounts responded with seven-straight runs over the next three frames to take the commanding lead. WCU matched Furman's three-run fourth, adding three in the fifth and a solo run in the sixth inning.
All told, Western Carolina (25-11, 10-5 SoCon) scored all 11 runs between the second and sixth innings on Sunday afternoon.
Junior left-hander Adam Curtis (4-0) tossed three and a third innings of relief to score the victory for the Catamounts which moved into a four-way tie for first-place atop the SoCon standings. The Arden, N.C., native surrendered just one unearned run on two hits, pitching around a pair of walks with four strikeouts to remain perfect on the season.
Freshman hurler Jeremy Null factored in a no-decision after working through three and two-thirds in the start, fanning three against a pair of walks. Null allowed three runs, only two of which were earned. Following Curtis' work, relievers Hunter Brister and Tyler Powell combined to throw the final two innings with Powell surrendering one run on just one hit for the Catamounts.
Martin belted his team-leading sixth home run of the season for WCU's lone run in the sixth inning, adding a trio of singles for his career-high four base hits, while White legged out his team-best 12th double of the year.
Three additional Catamounts recorded multi-hit games in the winning effort. Senior Ross Heffley tripled as a part of a 2-for-5, two RBI day, while sophomores Cody Jones and Julian Ridings both finished 2-for-5 with one run driven in.
WCU broke the scoreless deadlock in the home half of the second inning. With two aboard and only one out, Dykota Spiess singled through the right side to plate Jacob Hoyle from third base for the 1-0 lead. Ridings delivered a two-out single through to right field to bring home Martin and a 2-0 advantage through two innings.
In the third, White belted a first-pitch fast ball over the "Purple Monster" in left field for a two-run home run, scoring Jones in the process to double the lead to 4-0.
Furman (17-20, 7-11 SoCon) answered in the top of fourth inning, capitalizing on four hits and a Catamount error. Taylor Johnson homered down the right field line to start the frame and put the Paladins on the board, 4-1. With Will Miller aboard, catcher Paul Nitto reached on an infield throwing error to first that allowed Miller to score before Nitto was caught between second and third base for the second out of the inning. A pair of hit batsmen and a single by Chris Ohmstede loaded the bases before Will Owens registered an infield single to third to plate the third run, 4-3, and chasing WCU starter Null.
Curtis came in from the pen and struck out right fielder Jake Jones to halt the Paladin rally.
WCU responded with a three-run bottom of the frame to answer as Heffley delivered an RBI single off the first baseman to score Aaron Attaway who singled to left center to open the inning. White's double to right field put runners at second and third with one out. Heffley later scored on a wild pitch with White coming home on an RBI single up the middle by Martin for the four-run, 7-3, lead.
The Catamounts continued to swing the heavy bats in the fifth as Jones scored Ridings from third on an RBI single to left field ahead of Heffley who tripled down the right field line and later scored on a balk.
Trailing 11-3, Furman scratched the scoreboard for solo runs in the top of the eighth and ninth innings as a pair of lead-off singles and a throwing error by the pitcher while trying to initiate a double-play scored the Paladin run in the eighth. In the ninth, Muzika singled home a run to provide the final tally.
Muzika led Furman with a 3-for-5 outing at the plate with five other Paladin hitters combining for the remaining five hits.
Furman starter Tyler Wood (3-6) took the loss, allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits in three and a third innings of work. Stephen Gary gave up three runs on four hits in an inning and two-thirds out of the bullpen with Matt Solter, Anthony Buonopane and Elliott Warford tossing the final three innings of one-run, one-hit relief, striking out four.
Western Carolina is scheduled to have a pair of mid-week games beginning on Tuesday at Gardner-Webb before returning home to host mountain-rival, UNC Asheville, in Cullowhee on Wednesday evening.