April 25, 2010
Statesboro, Ga. - Western Carolina used an eight-run fourth inning to build a double-digit lead en route to an 11-3 road victory over Georgia Southern Saturday night in Southern Conference action at J.I. Clements Stadium. Matt Benedict limited the Eagles to three base hits through six innings while Ross Heffley drove in two and Tyler Kirkpatrick three including his team-leading 11th home run of the season as the Catamounts snapped a three-game winless drought.
The series rubber match is scheduled for a 1:30 pm first pitch on Sunday afternoon with sophomore right-hander Kyle Stewart to start for WCU. The game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network with air time 15 minutes prior to first pitch.
Benedict (6-0) remained perfect on the season after only allowing two runs, one of which was earned, through six innings. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native worked around four walks with seven strikeouts to earn his sixth victory of the season. Andrew Chilcoat tossed two innings of one-run, one-hit relief with two strikeouts, while Preston Hatcher only surrendered one hit in a scoreless ninth in relief to close out WCU's victory.
Saturday's game was delayed over four hours from its original start time by rain showers and the threat of thunderstorms in southeastern Georgia. Once the first pitch was finally hurled towards home plate, the Catamounts never looked back, pushing across two runs in the top of the first to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Matt Johns reached on a fielder's choice after Austin Schultz singled the first pitch of the game through the right side but was erased on a ground out. Johns stole second base before advancing to third on a two-out wild pitch. Heffley delivered the first of his three hits on the day, singling up the middle to plate Johns. The next batter, catcher Radley Haddad, doubled to left field on the first pitch he saw to score Heffley from first and give WCU the 2-0 lead.
After working through the Eagle lineup in three-up, three-down fashion, the Catamounts broke the game open in the top of the fourth. Trevor Collias led off the frame with a solo home run to left field with Tyler White legging out a double to left center for consecutive extra base hits. Dylan de Graaf reached on a dropped fly ball to right with Cameron Dullnig hit by a pitch for the team-leading 19th time to load the bases. Next batter, Austin Schultz, drew a walk to drive in the second run of the inning and chased starting pitcher Matt Murray.
Eagle reliever Michael Hester gave up an RBI single through the left side to Johns before Kirkpatrick laced a two-run single off the fence in center field for the fifth run. Heffley drove in his second run of the contest with a single to center as the Catamounts scored six before the first out was recorded. With two down in the inning and bases again loaded, de Graaf singled to right field to score two more runs.
All told, the Catamounts sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning in building the 10-run advantage.
Georgia Southern (22-18, 13-7 SoCon) notched solo runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but the Catamounts were able to squelch any potential rallies to maintain the lead in earning the win. In the fourth, a fielding error put Arthur Ownes on board where he was moved around the diamond, eventually scoring on a second WCU miscue on a throwing error. Shawn Payne scored twice in the middle innings for GSU, first drawing a walk to lead off the fifth inning, later scoring on a failed pick off attempt at third. Payne singled in the seventh before advancing to third by a walk and double-steal before racing home on a ground out to the right side.
A combined six Catamounts recorded multiple-hit games on Saturday. Kirkpatrick blasted a two-out solo homer in the fifth inning as a part of his 2-for-6, three-RBI performance with Ross Heffley finishing 3-for-4 with two RBIs. However, the Snellville, Ga., native re-aggravated his hamstring injury in legging out an infield bunt single with his status listed as day-to-day entering Sunday. Schultz and Collias both posted 2-for-5 showings at the plate, while White went 2-for-3 and Dullnig posted a 2-for-4 outing.
GSU starter Matt Murray was chased in the fourth inning after putting three frames in the books. He was tagged with the loss after allowing seven runs on six hits, striking out two against two walks. Reliever Michael Hester allowed three runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning, with Justin Hess pitching the final five and a third innings, limiting WCU to one run on six hits.
Two Eagle hitters recorded multi-hit games as Payne and Eric Phillips each totaled two hits apiece, with Payne scoring two of GSU's three runs.