April 29, 2007
Greenville, S.C. -
Juniors Blake Murphy and Steven Strausbaugh each posted multiple RBI games, with Strausbaugh and freshman Nick Liles each delivering solo home runs as Western Carolina won its fifth-straight Southern Conference series, downing the Furman Paladins, 8-5, Sunday afternoon at the Furman Baseball Stadium.
With the victory, Western reached the 30-win plateau for the sixth-time in head coach Todd Raleigh's eight seasons. It also marks WCU's 20th, 30-win season since 1984.
Sophomore right-hander Corey Martin (4-1) again gave Western a solid starting performance, going five and a third innings before allowing four-consecutive base hits with one out in the sixth inning as the Paladins closed to within a run, 6-5. Freshman lefty Chris Masters worked two and two thirds of hitless, scoreless relief posting four strikeouts until a lead-off walk in the ninth ended his day.
Junior closer, Greg Holland, worked the final inning, striking out two of the final three outs to collect his SoCon-leading eighth save of the season.
After two scoreless innings with both teams going three-up and three-down, Western (30-14, 13-5 SoCon) opened scoring in the top of the third as Liles led off with a seeing-eye single through the left side. Following a walk by senior Donnie Wilson, the Catamounts loaded the bases when short stop Mitchell Hatley was hit by a pitch. Junior Barrett Shaft drove in the game's first run, reaching on a fielder's choice to score Liles from third. Murphy then doubled down the left field line, scoring two to give the Catamounts a three-run advantage. Strausbaugh concluded the scoring in the inning, doubling to left to score Murphy from second and a 4-0 lead.
Western stretched its lead to five in the top of the fourth inning as Liles belted a one-out solo home run to left field, his second long ball of the season.
Furman added one run in the home half of the fourth as second baseman, Marcus Rose, was hit by a pitch, stole second and advance to third before scoring on a ground out to pull the Paladins to within four, 5-1. But just as quickly, WCU responded with back-to-back doubles by senior Kenny Smith and junior Jonathan Greene to lead, 6-1, after four and a half.
After the Paladins plated four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Western used a two-out, solo homer by Strausbaugh with Smith, who reached by being hit by a pitch and stole second, coming home on an error by the Paladin left fielder to again pull ahead by three, providing the final tally at 8-5.
Liles led WCU with a 2-for-4 day at the plate with the homer, while both Strausbaugh and Murphy finished 2-for-5.
Western will take the week off for final exams, returning to action this Friday at home as it entertains arch-rival, Appalachian State, for a three-game set at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium. First pitch on Friday is set for 7:00 pm.