April 26, 2009
Greenville, S.C. -
Western Carolina rallied from a six-run deficit to force extra innings Saturday evening, but fielding miscues in the bottom of the 15th prevented the come-from-behind win as the Catamounts fell to the Paladins, 11-10, in Southern Conference action at Latham Stadium.
Furman's Campbell Lewis scored the game-winning run after leading off the 15th with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Aaron Thompkins, which Western Carolina misplayed for an error. Furman's Will Miller then laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt to Catamount relief pitcher Mike Tavernier, whose throw to third base for the force play sailed over the glove of Tyler Kirkpatrick and down the right field line, allowing Lewis to score, ending the four-hour, 34-minute affair.
WCU (24-17, 12-7 SoCon) thrice had opportunities in the top of each of the final three innings, pulling ahead by a run in both the 13th and 14th innings only to have Furman answer in the home half of the frame. Matt Johns opened the 13th with the first of back-to-back singles, with Rembert Rollison moving Johns to third on the second base hit. Logan Bland reached on a fielder's choice allowing Johns to score the go-ahead run, 9-8.
Yet in the bottom of the frame, Wes Miller posted his lone hit of the game in a one-out solo home run to again knot things at nine and force the continuation.
Again in the 14th, Western pulled ahead on a two-out home run to left center by Brent Greer to lead 10-9 only to see Furman match it in the bottom of the inning with a second homer, this one off the bat of Wes Miller.
Furman escaped a bases loaded, no-out situation in the top of the 15th on three straight singles by Johns, Rollison and Kirkpatrick off Paladin reliever Stephen Gary. However, the Greenwood, S.C., product rallied to retire Johns on a force play at the plate for the first out and then struck out Mitchell Hatley
, and closed out the Catamounts by fanning Nick Liles
Greer finished a game-best, 5-of-7 with a double and home run as seven Catamounts finished with multi-hit games. Liles was 3-for-8 with a homer and his team-leading 15th double, with Rollison also blasting a solo home run in the eighth that tied the game at eight apiece as a part of a 4-for-6 outing.
Furman's Stephen Gary (2-0) earned the victory after working the final two innings, allowing four hits and a run while the loss went to Tavernier (3-4), Western Carolina's projected Sunday starter.
WCU took an early, 2-0, lead in the top of the first as Liles scored on a double-play ground out by Greer and J.C. Lyons lifted an RBI single up the middle. Furman answered two frames later with the first of two, four-run innings in building a six-run lead prior to WCU's rally.
The Catamounts pushed across one in the sixth as Greer doubled to right center to score classmate Liles who opened the frame with a sharp single to the shortstop. An inning later, Western scored four runs on five hits including a two-run homer by Liles and an RBI single by Hatley to close within one before Rollison's blast tied the game in the eighth setting up the extra inning theatrics.
The two teams will play the series rubber match on Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 pm at Latham Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 and online at www.WWCUFM.com.