April 23, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Aaron Attaway broke a scoreless tie with a lead-off home run in the bottom of the sixth inning with Tyler White collecting his 20th double of the season to drive in an insurance run as Western Carolina blanked visiting Kennesaw State, 2-0, Tuesday night in nonconference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The win was the eighth-straight for the Catamounts - and their 10th in the last 11 games - while also halting a two-game home winless drought against the Owls. It also capped WCU's nine-game home stand, finishing with an 8-1 record.
Attaway led all hitters with two hits in a 2-for-4 performance at the dish, belting his eighth home run of the season on the first pitch he saw in the home portion of the sixth to stake the Catamounts to a 1-0 lead. The Morganton, N.C., native recorded both runs for the Purple & Gold, reaching on a lead-off single in the eighth and stole second before White doubled to bring him home to stretch the advantage to two.
Three WCU pitchers combined on the shutout, the first for the Catamounts since May 11, 2012 when Jordan Smith tossed a complete game, five-hit shutout of Georgia Southern. Sophomore Tyler Powell earned his first collegiate start, scattering three hits in three innings of scoreless work while striking out two.
Senior Adam Curtis (2-1) tossed the middle four and two-thirds innings, working around two walks with a pair of strikeouts and limiting the Owls to just one base hit. The Arden, N.C., product benefited from the Attaway bomb to score the win. Classmate Preston Hatcher secured his 11th save to remain tied atop the SoCon charts, striking out one to get WCU out of a jam in the eighth before tossing a perfect ninth.
Finishing his conference-leading 23rd game of the season, Hatcher earned his 21st career save to move into sole possession of second-place within one of all-time record holder Seth Foster who had 22 saves from 2000-03. The Atlanta, Ga., native is also three saves shy of Mike Manning's single-season record of 14 saves set in 1994 and six shy of the SoCon's regular-season mark.
For Kennesaw State (21-22), starter Nathan Harsh was the tough-luck loser, surrendering the homer to Attaway but otherwise silencing the potent Catamount lineup. Harsh struck out a career-high eight against two walks in a career-long 6.2 innings on the hill, only allowing the one run on four hits. Reliever Will Solomon was touched up for a run on two hits with a strikeout.
WCU and Powell worked around a one-out double in the Owls' first and a lead-off two-bagger in the second, stranding both runners including one at third base in the second frame. KSU put its lead-off man aboard again in the third but left its third runner on in the game.
In the fourth, Curtis surrendered a walk to the first batter he faced after tossing seven pitches, but induced a one-out, inning-ending ground ball for a double-play to erase Kennesaw State's threat.
Kennesaw State got a two-out double in the sixth and a lead-off walk in the eighth but both runners were stranded. Hatcher replaced Curtis with two outs in the eighth, striking out Kal Simmons on three pitches to end the inning.
Western Carolina (27-16) hits the road on Wednesday night to battle the Clemson Tigers (27-13) which are ranked as high as 13th in the most recent college baseball polls. WCU looks to avenge a 12-9 home loss to the Tigers back on April 9 - the lone loss for the Catamounts in their nine-game home stand. WCU erased a six-run deficit to knot the game at nine apiece in the first meeting, but a three-run top of the ninth for Jack Leggett's squad led Clemson to the win, halting WCU's two-game series win streak.
A pair of freshmen are slated to start for either squad as rookie right-hander Jonathan Waszak (0-0, 4.24 ERA) will start for the Catamounts while freshman LHP Zack Erwin (2-0, 2 saves, 2.43 ERA) is slated to go for the Tigers.
Wednesday's game is the first of five-straight road games for the Catamounts. The game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with an air time of 6:15 pm online at CatamountSports.com.