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Western Carolina Takes Two-Game SoCon Series over The Citadel

Senior Dykota Spiess drove home the game-winning run on an eighth inning double to right center field in game one of the series win over The Citadel. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

April 20, 2014

Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina won both games of its rain-shortened, abbreviated Southern Conference series over The Citadel Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, rallying to win Saturday night's suspended game, 5-4, before claiming the finale, 8-2, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

Western Carolina, which improved to 26-12 overall, kept pace in the SoCon race by improving to 11-3 in league play. The Citadel dropped to 15-25 overall, 2-15 in conference play.

Senior Dykota Spiess laced a one-out, run-scoring double to right center field in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive home Luke Gragg to break the 4-4 tie in game one as the Catamounts held on for the 5-4 victory. In the finale, senior starter Jordan Smith (6-3) allowed just five hits and two runs while striking out 10 in tossing his second complete game of the season as the Catamounts won, 8-2, over the Bulldogs.

Sluggers Adam Martin and Jacob Hoyle both finished with three hits in the two-game series with 3-for-8 outings including two apiece in the second game, while freshman Matt Smith also collected three hits, all coming in the series finale. Martin tallied three RBI including a two-run home run in game one while junior Bradley Strong doubled twice to drive in three runs in the second game.

Game One Recap: Western Carolina 5, The Citadel 4:
Trailing 2-0 after rain forced the suspension of the postponed series opener on Saturday night, Western Carolina rallied to the 5-4 victory as Spiess broke the 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with his dramatic double to right center field.

The Citadel took a 2-0 lead after a lead-off home run by Tyler Griffin in the top of the third inning on Saturday night before the game was called because of rain after the Bulldogs batted in the top of the fourth. On Sunday, the Catamounts wasted little time in evening the game off of starter Logan Cribb, loading the bases with a pair of walks and an error on a would-be sacrifice attempt by Danny Bermudez. A double-play ground out allowed one run to score with J.D. Long driving in the game-tying marker on a single into right field.

The Bulldogs responded by taking the lead back in the top of the fifth as Hughston Armstrong scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2 in favor of the visitors.

Still down a run in the home half of the seventh, Adam Martin drove home two on his ninth home run of the season, a two-out shot that cleared the fence just to the right of the center field batter's eye to push WCU ahead 4-3 going to the eighth.

However, the Bulldogs again answered in the top half of the eighth as Calvin Orth homered to left center to tie the game at four.

In the decisive bottom of the eighth, Luke Gragg drew a walk in an eight-pitch at bat before Spiess drove a full-count pitch into the gap in right center field allowing Gragg - who was running with the pitch - to score easily from first base with the go-ahead run.

Senior reliever T.J. Fussell (3-2), a native of Asheville, scored the win in the game which began Friday amidst rain showers. Fussell threw the final 2.1 innings out of the bullpen after freshman Bryan Sammons opened Sunday's action in relief of original starter, Jeremy Null. Fussell struck out two while both Sammons and Null fanned one apiece through the first five and two thirds innings.

With WCU clinging to the one-run lead, junior closer Tyler Powell scored his eighth save of the season, striking out one in a perfect ninth.

Game Two Recap: Western Carolina 8, The Citadel 2
Western Carolina scored all eight runs between the second and fifth innings and rode the right arm of Jordan Smith to complete the two-game series win over The Citadel, 8-2. The Catamounts scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning and never trailed to take the series.

Smith struck out 10 - just one shy of his career-high - in scoring his sixth victory of the season with his second complete game in the last three weeks. The complete game was the fifth of Smith's career - and his second coming against The Citadel. Smith's Sunday start was the 54th of his WCU career making him the all-time career leader.

Matt Smith had a career-high three hits including his first collegiate double while junior Bradley Strong doubled twice, plating three runs in the winning effort. Strong put the Catamounts on the board in the bottom of the second inning with a third run scoring on a Bulldog error to make it 3-0 after two.

Smith collected a RBI single in the third as WCU stretched its advantage to four before The Citadel responded with a run in the top of the fourth on a Drew DeKerlegand single.

In the bottom of the fourth, Martin added to his SoCon-leading RBI total with his 46th run driven in on a sharp single up the middle before Luke Gragg lifted a sacrifice fly to left to drive in the sixth run to make it 6-1. Strong drove in another run after Smith doubled off the fence in left to start the inning with Cody Jones plating a run on a ground out to the right side to cap the Catamounts' scoring.

The Bulldogs provided the final tally in the seventh as DeKerlegand scored on a double-play turned by the WCU middle infield, making it 8-2.

Austin Mason (1-3) took the loss for The Citadel after allowing six runs on seven hits in three and a third innings in the start.

Western Carolina hits the road to wrap-up the month of April, playing at nationally-ranked Clemson on Wednesday evening before traveling to Birmingham, Ala., for a three-game SoCon series next weekend, April 25-27.