April 21, 2012
Birmingham, Ala. - Samford scored four runs in the home half of the seventh inning as it rallied past Western Carolina on Friday night to take the series opener with a 6-3 come-from-behind victory at Joe Lee Griffin Field.
Game two of the three-game is scheduled for 2:00 pm CT / 3:00 pm ET in Birmingham. Saturday's game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard online at www.CatamountSports.com.
Sophomore shortstop Aaron Attaway reached base four times for the Catamounts in the loss, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and two walks at the top of the WCU order. Ross Heffley drove in a run on a double to right center in a 1-for-3 outing with an intentional walk, while Tyler White finished 1-for-4 with a two-RBI double.
WCU starter Jordan Smith factored in a no-decision after tossing five and two thirds innings in the start, allowing two runs on four hits. The Liberty, N.C., native struggled with seven walks and a hit batsman, but worked around the eight free passes with six strikeouts and left the game with the lead intact.
Redshirt senior Vance Chavis allowed one hit in a third of an inning out of the bullpen with Jeremy Sluder (1-2) suffering the loss after allowing four runs - only two of which were earned - in two thirds of a frame. Sluder issued the walk and two hit batters in the seventh and was charged with the four runs following the error.
Western Carolina (25-13, 10-6 SoCon) took the early lead in the top of the first inning as Heffley delivered his 60th career double, plating Cody Jones from second base for the 1-0 lead. Heffley moved into a tie for fifth in school history with the two-bagger, joining former Catamounts Blake Murphy and current WCU assistant coach Alan Beck.
The Bulldogs responded with two runs in the bottom of the opening frame to lead by a run after one, 2-1. Brandon Miller drew a bases loaded walk to knot the game at one before Brad Moss crossed on a sacrifice fly to right by C.K. Irby.
In the top of the third inning, WCU again took control with a one-run lead. Julian Ridings singled through the right side on the first pitch of the at bat and promptly stole second base. Attaway drew the first of his two walks with Jones sacrificing himself to move runners both runners into scoring position. Heffley drew the intentional walk to load the bases with Tyler White coming through with his team-leading 13th double of the season to score two and a 3-2 Catamount edge.
WCU was able to hold onto its lead despite numerous threats by the Bulldogs. Samford loaded the bases with back-to-back two out walks in the fourth, but Stone flew out to center to end the inning. Again in the fifth, Samford put three aboard with two outs as Phillip Ervin doubled and consecutive walks including an intentional pass to Miller, but a force out up the middle again left the Catamounts with the one-run lead.
In the sixth inning, Smith recorded back-to-back strikeouts for the first outs in the frame before issuing a six-pitch walk to Stone which chased the starting pitcher. Chavis surrendered a single to put two aboard, but ended the inning on a slow-rolling ground out to second.
While the Bulldogs kept putting runners aboard, Western Carolina was struggling to find its usually potent offense. At one stretch, Samford retired 10-straight Catamounts with Attaway's two-out walk in the seventh ending that stretch.
Samford was able to cash-in on its ability to put runners on base in the home half of the seventh inning that ultimately led to the victory. Ervin opened with a single through the left side before Miller lifted a fly ball to center field for the first out. Irby drew a four-pitch walk to put two aboard before Sluder struck out Corbin looking for out number two. However, it was there that things unraveled for WCU.
Christiaan Durdaller was plunked by the second pitch of his at bat to load the bases with Austin Allison also drilled by the second offering to drive in the game-tying run. Hatcher was summoned from the bullpen and induced a ground ball to the right side. Yet, the slow chopper fell between Hatcher and second baseman Heffley with the late throw to the bag at first skipping away allowing a second run to score. With runners at second and third, Hatcher got another ground ball to third where Bradley Strong caught Stone in a run-down and the third out, but not before the fourth run of the frame crossed home and a 6-3 Samford edge.
Samford starter Charles Basford (6-1) scattered seven hits in 7.2 innings on the day, surrendering three earned runs. He struck out four and walked three before giving way to reliever Joseph Burns who earned his first save of the season by tossing the final inning and a third. Burns struck out one while allowing just one hit. Offensively, Stone finished 2-for-4 for the Bulldogs while Ervin was 2-for-5 at the plate.
First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 2:00 pm local time, 3:00 pm ET.