April 21, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Jordan Smith struck out six Eagle hitters and Adam Martin posted a 3-for-3 outing at the dish including a pair of doubles as Western Carolina completed the three-game Southern Conference series sweep, holding on for a 7-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
WCU won its seventh-straight game on the season - and eighth-straight SoCon match-up - while relegating GSU to its eighth-consecutive defeat overall on the year. It was also WCU's second-consecutive, three-game series sweep in as many weeks and its sixth SoCon series victory of the year.
Smith (3-3) collected his second-straight Sunday win for WCU, scattering four runs - only three of which were earned - on nine hits through six solid innings, earning his 13th career win. The Liberty, N.C., product fanned six against one walk, moving into 15th in program history with 186 career strikeouts.
Senior reliever Jon Nadale tossed two hitless, shutout innings out of the bullpen, working around a walk with three strikeouts to set-up his classmate closer, Preston Hatcher. The fourth-year hurler from Atlanta, Ga., struck out one with a walk in tossing a hitless, scoreless ninth to earn his career-high tying 10th save of the season. Hatcher now ranks tied for second in both the WCU single-season (10) and career (20) record books for saves, just two shy of tying the career number and four short of the seasonal tally.
Western Carolina (26-16, 15-6 SoCon) manufactured a run in the second inning to grab a lead early on Sunday. Martin hit his first of two doubles on the day before Dykota Spiess put down a perfect bunt, reaching on an infield single and pushing Martin to third. Bryant Noteboom, a late addition to the WCU lineup in the designated hitter spot, grounded out to the right side of the infield to plate the first run, scoring Martin from third.
GSU responded in the top of the fifth inning as Kyle Streicher laced a one-out double off the bag at third and rolled down the left field line. Scooter Williams singled deep in the hole at shortstop, holding Streicher at second but putting two aboard for the visitors with two gone. A passed ball allowed both runners to advance 90-feet with Robbie Dodds delivering a two-RBI single to centerfield that dropped just in front of Julian Ridings, plating two and giving the Eagles a 2-1 advantage.
Streicher (3-for-4) finished with three base hits including the fifth-inning double to lead the Eagles offensively.
The lead was short-lived, though, as the Catamounts responded half an inning later. Back-to-back hits by Attaway and Ridings - the second of which a double down the left field line - knotted the game as Attaway raced around and scored from first base. Tyler White then singled along the infield to put runners at the corners before Martin cranked his second double of the day, scoring two for a 4-2 edge.
With two outs, the Catamounts scored two more runs coming on three-straight singles. Dale Urquhart Jr., punched one through the left side for a pinch-hit RBI single to score Martin with Bradley Strong also singling through the left side. Luke Gragg came through as a pinch hitter with a sharp single right back up the middle to cap the scoring with WCU leading, 6-2.
All told, when the dust settled, WCU had plated five runs on seven hits in the decisive fifth frame.
Georgia Southern would not go away, though, cutting the Catamount lead back down to two with a pair of runs in the sixth inning. T.D. Davis doubled to start the frame with Tyler Avera hitting a RBI single to right center to score the first run. Avera later scored on a RBI single by Streicher making it 6-4.
WCU capitalized on back-to-back, two-out walks issued by reliever Matt McCall with Spiess driving in one to push the margin back to three runs, 7-4.
The Catamount bullpen then took over, locking the game up behind Nadale and Hatcher.
In addition to Martin's three hits, the Marietta, Ga., native walked twice to reach each time he was at the dish. White (2-for-3) collected two hits and two walks for WCU while Spiess also hitting twice including the RBI double.
Eagle starter Sam Howard (5-6) took the loss, surrendering six earned runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over three walks. Reliever Chris Myers was able to get GSU out of the fifth inning, surrendering one hit. Matt McCall tossed the final three frames, limiting WCU to a run on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Avera and Davis both had two hits apiece to go along with Streicher's outing. Dodds drove in two of GSU's four runs in the loss.
Western Carolina plays five games next week including two mid-week out-of-conference games. The Catamounts conclude their season-long, nine-game home stand on Tuesday by hosting the Kennesaw State Owls (21-21) out of the Atlantic Sun with first pitch at 5:00 pm.
On Wednesday, WCU opens a five-game road swing at nationally-ranked Clemson in the back-end of a seasonal home-and-home, looking to avenge a 12-9 home defeat from April 9. First pitch from Doug Kingsmore Stadium is set for 6:30 pm.