April 25, 2010
Statesboro, Ga. -
Ross Heffley blasted his second home run of the contest, a three-run shot over the fence in left center to tie the game in the top of the ninth as a part of a six-run rally in the final frame as Western Carolina scored a come-from-behind victory,. 14-11, over Georgia Southern to win the three-game Southern Conference series at J.I. Clements Stadium.
Tied at eight in the bottom of the eighth inning, Catamount closer Daniel Ottone tweaked a muscle in his throwing arm and had to come out with one on and one out in the inning. WCU scrambled and was forced to utilize a combined four pitchers following Ottone's injury in the inning. Once the dust had settled, three runs had crossed for the Eagles as GSU took an 11-8 lead into the ninth.
Down to their final two outs after a lead-off fly-out, Western Carolina (25-13-1, 8-9-1 SoCon) mounted a tremendous rally, pushing across six runs to turn the three-run deficit into a three-run advantage. Matt Johns laced a single to left field on the first pitch of his at bat with Tyler Kirkpatrick drawing a four-pitch walk to put two men on ahead of Heffley. The Snellville, Ga., native knotted the game with his second round-tripper that just cleared the fence in left center field.
The rally continued as Ollie Goulder drew a one-out walk and Trevor Collias was plunked by a pitch to put two aboard for freshman Tyler White. The rookie smashed a shot to third base where the Eagles' A.J. Wirnsberger misplayed the ball at the bag with it rolling down the foul line in left. Goulder raced in from home with the speedy Collias touching the dish on the two-base error. Dylan de Graaf singled on the infield to put runners at the corners for pinch hitter Radley Haddad who punched one through the right side for an RBI single and put the Catamounts ahead, 14-11.
Heffley finished 3-for-4 with his second multi-home run performance in as many weeks, driving in a game-high six. Collias also posted a two-home run game, coming on consecutive at bats to finish 3-for-4 with four RBI. Combined, six Catamounts posted multi-hit games in the winning effort.
Freshman reliever Adam Curtis (2-0) picked up his second win of the season in efficient fashion. One of 10 hurlers used by the Catamounts in the win, Curtis worked a third of an inning, tossing six pitches, he got Eagle slugger Kyle Blackburn to foul out to third to end the eighth inning. Starter Kyle Stewart struggled for WCU and was chased after recording just two outs in the first and surrendering six runs on four hits. Junior Brandon Johnson worked a team-high three and two-thirds in relief, settling the game down for WCU. The Morehead City, N.C., native pitched around five walks, limiting GSU to an unearned run on two hits.
Rookie right-hander T.J. Page, playing just miles from his hometown of Savannah, Ga., picked up his first career save by tossing a hitless, scoreless ninth inning, surrendering a walk.
All told, the Catamounts used 10 pitchers in earning the win and issued a season-high 15 walks. GSU was unable to take advantage, though, stranding 14 runners to the five left by WCU.
WCU took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, capitalizing on four hits. Schultz opened the game with the first of four singles in the opening frame with Heffley plating the game's first run on an RBI shot to left field. Goulder singled to the opposite field to give the Catamounts the early advantage for the third time on the weekend.
However, Georgia Southern (22-19, 13-8 SoCon) answered in the home half of the frame with six runs on five hits including a grand slam home run by Victor Roache to reclaim the lead, 6-2.
Heffley pulled the Catamounts back to within two with a two-run homer left field in the third inning with GSU adding a solo run on a sacrifice fly by Arthur Owens to lead by three, 7-4, through three.
With Kirkpatrick and Heffley aboard in the fifth, Collias tied the game for first time with a long ball that skirted the right field fence down the line for a three-run home run and a 7-7 score. Yet again, the rally was answered by GSU as Blackburn - with the heavy infield shift applied to the left-handed batter - hit a towering home run to right center to put the Eagles ahead, 8-7, in the sixth inning.
Down a run in the top of the eighth, Collias again tied things up with his second round-tripper with a solo shot to left center as the Catamounts tied the game at eight, setting up the Eagle's heroics in the eighth before WCU's ninth-inning rally.
Reliever Dexter Bobo (1-1) was saddled with the loss after working three and a third in relief of starter Andy Moye. Bobo gave up five runs on four hits with three walks while Moye left after the fifth having allowed seven runs on 11 hits with walks against four strikeouts.
Western Carolina returns to action on Wednesday night as it travels to Athens, Ga., to face the Georgia Bulldogs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 pm. The game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard online at www.CatamountSports.com with the pre-game show slated for 15 minutes prior to first pitch.