April 26, 2013
Greensboro, N.C. - Senior Tyler White blasted his first career grand slam home run in the fifth inning on Friday night as Western Carolina claimed its Southern Conference series opener over UNCG, 7-3, at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
White's four-RBI homer was one of two by the Catamounts in the win as Jacob Hoyle also homered in WCU's ninth-straight victory in SoCon play. White's four RBI gives him a team-leading 46 on the year to go along with his team-high 21 doubles and 10 homers.
Games two and three are scheduled to be played on Saturday as a part of a doubleheader in an attempt to avoid inclement weather forecasted for the latter half of the weekend. First pitch in game one is scheduled for 1:00 pm.
Hoyle belted an opposite field home run as the left-hander gave Western Carolina (28-17, 16-6 SoCon) its first hit of the game after three and a third innings of hitless play. In WCU's five-run fifth inning, the Catamounts capitalized on two walks to Luke Gragg and Cody Jones with Aaron Attaway loading the bases with a single to right field. White then belted the first pitch of his at bat over the fence in left at the spacious UNCG facility to clear the bases and hand the Catamounts a 5-1 lead.
In the eighth inning, Julian Ridings drove the ninth pitch of his lead-off at bat off the wall in right center field for a double with WCU eventually loading the bases with an infield error and Dale Urquhart Jr., being plunked by a pitch. Dykota Spiess then lifted a run-scoring, sacrifice fly to center field to make it 6-1 in favor of the Purple & Gold.
UNCG (18-24, 6-13 SoCon) managed to pull back within three runs in the home half of the eighth, plating two runs on four hits with one WCU error. The home squad put runners at the corners with two outs when Eric Kalbfleisch singled through the left side to drive in the first run. T.J. Spina singled deep in the hole at shortstop, but a throwing error allowed Trevor Edwards to score before a strikeout halted the rally.
Kalbfleisch was one of four Spartans with two-hits in the loss, tripling and scoring in the second inning. Christian Wolfe, Lloyd Enzor and Benigno Marrero all finishing 2-for-4.
Jeremy Null (5-2) struck out six in seven and a third innings of work for the Catamounts to score the victory on the mound. The right-hander from Claremont, N.C., held the Spartans to just two runs on the night while walking just one. Tyler Powell struck out one while allowing a run on three hits in his third of an inning on the mound.
With two runners aboard in a three-run game, senior closer Preston Hatcher was summoned from the bullpen. The Atlanta, Ga., native got a strikeout to end the eighth inning before working around a one-out single and walk to pick up his 12th save of the year ranking him second in WCU's single-season record books.
Hatcher additionally moved into a tie with former Catamount reliever Ryan Foster (2000-03) atop WCU's career saves chart with 22.
UNCG starter Max Povse (3-3) scattered four hits through his seven innings on the mound, striking out eight but walked four with one hit batsman in taking the loss. Reliever Blair Betts recorded a third of an inning with Brennen James giving up a run on two hits, walking two in an inning and two thirds.
UNCG out-hit WCU, 11-to-6, on the night, yet half of the Catamounts' hits went for extra bases including the two homers and Ridings' double.
The final two games of the series are slated for Saturday. Fans can listen to live play-by-play from the Catamount Sports Network beginning at 12:45 pm online at CatamountSports.com.