April 18, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. - Georgia Southern scored 11 runs on seven hits in the top of the fourth inning to take a sizeable lead on Sunday afternoon, but had to hold off a Western Carolina charge to win the series rubber match, 16-13, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Both squads combined for 29 runs on 32 hits in the series finale with GSU taking the last two games after the Catamounts won on Friday, 12-4.
GSU starter Justin Hess (2-2) was credited with the win, striking out seven against two walks while surrendering six runs on seven hits. Hess returned to the mound following his squad's big inning, but was not as effective in the fourth as he had been in the three previous frames. The Eagles finished the game with six relief pitchers with Chris Myers tossing two and a third while Matt Murray finished off the ninth to pick up his second save of the weekend and sixth of the season.
For the Catamounts, Adam Curtis (1-3) was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits in the first three innings. WCU likewise used six relief pitchers with Andrew Blackwell tossing an inning, Andrew Chilcoat an inning and a third, while Brandon Johnson pitched the final two and two thirds of scoreless relief, scattering four hits with three strikeouts.
The two teams traded home runs in the opening two innings as Eric Phillips belted a two-out homer for the Eagles in the top of the first with Matt Johns leading off with a solo shot in the second to knot the game at one apiece through two.
Georgia Southern (22-15, 11-4 SoCon) then broke open the deadlock in the fourth inning with 11 runs, rapping out seven hits including home runs by Victor Roache and Garren Palmer. The Eagles also capitalized on two bases loaded walks and scored a run on a wild pitch. When the dust settled, GSU led 12-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
In the bottom of the frame, the Catamounts began the uphill battle back, putting a five-spot on the scoreboard to cut the deficit in half. Ross Heffley opened with solo home run to left with Stephen Notaro driving in a second run on a single. Dykota Spiess poked a double through on the left field line to drive in a run with classmate Aaron Attaway's sacrifice fly plating the fourth run. Austin Schultz capped the scoring with a RBI single, pulling WCU back to 12-6.
Johns led the Catamounts with a 4-for-5 performance at the plate with three RBI and three runs scored while Heffley finished 2-for-5 with the homer and a RBI double.
GSU stretched its lead in the sixth with two runs, but the Catamounts continued to claw back with a second, five-run inning. Cameron Dullnig lifted a one-out RBI single to left field before Johns drove in two on a bases loaded single to left center. Notaro credited another RBI on an infield ground out with Spiess driving in the fifth run with a single to left center as Western Carolina closed to within three, 14-11.
The Eagles again answered in the top of the seventh with two runs to lead 16-11 with WCU managing single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Heffley drove in Schultz in the seventh and Attaway again plated a run on a sacrifice fly. However, WCU stranded two base runners in the seventh and another runner in the eighth before being retired in order in the ninth.
Western Carolina returns to mid-week action at Tennessee on Wednesday evening at 7 pm in Knoxville, Tenn., before hosting the Wofford Terriers in a three-game SoCon series next weekend in Cullowhee.