Cullowhee, N.C. - Junior Brett Pope collected three hits with a pair of RBI while senior Nobu Suzuki drove in a game-high three as Western Carolina completed the two-game, midweek nonconference series sweep of visiting Savannah State, 9-2, on Wednesday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Pope doubled twice and plated two runners on a fourth-inning single to lead the Catamounts offensively. He was joined by junior Caleb Robinson with two doubles as the McLeansville, N.C., product finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI as the designated hitter.
Suzuki managed to push three runners across the plate in a 1-for-4 outing, tallying a sacrifice fly, a run-scoring single, and an infield ground out that allowed a run to score in the winning effort.
Two Catamount seniors extended their impressive offensive streaks on Wednesday. Bryson Bowman reached twice with a single and a walk, stretching his reached base safely streak to 40-straight games -- each game WCU has played this season -- while also tallying a base hit in his 25th-consecutive game. Both of Bowman's streaks rank among the tops currently active in the nation. Matt Smith pushed his current reached base safely streak to 22-straight with a first-inning walk, though he finished 0-for-3.
WCU capitalized on a first inning error to grab a lead it would never relinquish. Bowman reached on an infield throwing error with Smith drawing a walk right behind him to put to aboard. Caleb Robinson then belted the first of his two doubles to left center field to bring two home. A double and stolen base by Pope in the third resulted in a run on a sacrifice fly by Suzuki to make it 3-0 through three.
The Catamounts pulled away with a four-run fourth inning, sending nine batters to the plate with just one extra base hit. Caleb Robinson doubled to start the rally before being driven home by his younger brother, Luke Robinson, on a single to right center field. Pope then drove home two on a sharp single up then middle before Suzuki capped scoring in the inning with his second RBI base knock.
In the top of the sixth, Tiger first baseman Turner Davis lifted a two-run home run over the fence in left field to trim the Catamount advantage back to five, 7-2. However, WCU answered in the home half of the frame with Suzuki's run-scoring ground out and a wild pitch capping scoring allowing Pope to scamper home with the ninth marker.
Senior starter Chad Mabini (2-0) scored the victory in a predetermined four-inning outing, limiting the Tigers to four hits. The Alpharetta, Ga., native struck out two against one walk, twice stranding two runners aboard. Junior Corey Sikes was the second of five WCU pitchers on Wednesday, striking out two with three walks in two innings of relief work.
Savannah State starter Caleb Hill (0-1) suffered the loss in his first start of the season, limiting the Catamounts to six runs -- four of which were earned -- on five hits with a pair of walks and one strikeout. Reliever Jacob Morrison was tagged for three runs, two earned, with two strikeouts in two innings of work out of the bullpen, while Spencer Gillis tossed two and two-thirds innings of hitless, scoreless relief, countering a walk with a strikeout.
Offensively for the Tigers, leadoff batter Jalen Atterbury and outfield counterpart Mason Calloway both tallied two hits as nine of Savannah State's 10 hits were singles. Atterbury finished 2-for-5 while Calloway was 2-for-3 with a walk. Davis finished 1-for-4 with the home run and three strikeouts.
Western Carolina (21-19, 10-5 SoCon) hits the road for a crucial three-game Southern Conference series against the Samford Bulldogs this weekend in Birmingham, Ala. The series opens with a 7:00 pm first pitch on Friday before 3:00 pm and 2:00 pm starts on Saturday and Sunday. Each game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio available online at CatamountSports.com.