April 23, 2004
Cullowhee, N.C. - UNC Greensboro got two, two-run home runs in the top of the first and withstood a furious rally to hand Western Carolina a 9-7 loss Friday night at Childress Field/Hennon Satdium. The Spartans improve to 24-10 overall and 9-7 in the Southern Conference, while the Catamounts fall to 17-22, 7-12.
The Spartans took and early 5-0 lead in the top of the first. After Jeremy Roulin drew a leadoff walk, Ryan Gordon followed with an RBI double to left-center field. WCU starting pitcher Caleb McConnell got the next two batters to ground out. However, UNCG's leading hitting made the score 3-0 with a two-run home over the left field fence. McConnell looked to be out of the inning with a strikeout, but Chris Mason reached on a wild pitch. Right fielder Jay Maule took advantage of the opportunity by hitting the second two-run homer of the inning.
The Catamounts came back with two runs in the bottom of the first, making the score 5-2. Todd Roper legged out a one-out double and Chris Davis followed by being hit by a pitch. After a double steal, Jared Greenwood drove in Roper with a sacrifice fly to left. Brian Sigmon then plated Davis with a single through the left side.
In the bottom of the third, Western trimmed its deficit to one (5-4). Greenwood had a one-out single and he moved to third on a Sigmon double down the left field line. After a strikeout, Mike McGowan delivered a single up the middle, scoring Greenwood and Sigmon.
In the top of the fifth, UNCG pushed its advantage to two (6-4) with one run on three hits. Roulin became the first Spartan base runner since he drew a walk in the second. The junior moved to third on a Gordon single to right. After a strikeout, Ryan Brincat reached on a WCU fielding error, driving in Roulin in the process. A single by Valencia would load the bases, but McConnell would get out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out.
The Spartans padded their lead (7-4) with one run on one hit in the top of the sixth. Robbie Redic led off by being hit by a pitch and, after a strikeout, Roulin reached on a walk. Gordon followed with his second double of the game, plating Redic. Crist walked to load the bases, but WCU relief pitcher Luke Miller got a ground out to end the threat. In the eighth, UNCG's Justin Crist hit his second home run of the season to make the score 8-4.
Western trimmed its deficit to three (8-5) in the bottom of the eighth when Chad McKown hit a solo home run, his 10th of the season. However, in the top of the ninth, UNCG designated hitter Chris Mason hit the first pitch of the frame over the left field fence to make the score 9-5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Western tried to rally, getting consecutive singles by Kilmer and Roper and a Davis walk to load the bases, Greenwood grounded to first, driving in Kilmer and moving Roper to third. Sigmon grounded out to third, plating Roper. Spartan relief pitcher Jared Santos picked up his third save of the season when he induced a ground out to end the game. Santos pitched the final 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and two runs with a walk.
Spartan starting pitcher Scooter Michael improved to 8-0 on the season, pitching 7.2 innings. The senior struck out 11, giving him 290 for his career, and allowed eight hits, five runs and three walks. Offensively for UNCG, Gordon went 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Valencia was 2-for-5 with two RBI,
For the Catamounts, McConnell suffered the loss, falling to 2-2 on the year. He allowed seven hits and six runs with two walks and five strikeouts. Offensively, Sigmon led the way with three hits, while Roper and McKown added two hits. Greenwood, Sigmon and McGowan each drove in three.
Western Carolina and UNC Greensboro will play the second of their three-game series on Saturday at 4 pm.