Birmingham, Ala. - Western Carolina's offense was stymied by a pair of Bulldog pitchers on Sunday afternoon as the Catamounts dropped their rain-shortened Southern Conference series finale at Samford, 7-0. WCU's potent offense was limited to just a Matt Smith single to lead-off the second inning in suffering the shutout defeat at John Lee Griffin Field.
Western Carolina (22-21, 11-7 SoCon) did manage two additional hits and one run in the top of the eighth inning as Justin Sparks doubled down the first base line, and was later driven in on a run-scoring single by Nobu Suzuki. However, when the heavy downpours halted the game, the official scoring reverted to the last completed inning -- the seventh -- thus negating all activity from the top of the eighth inning.
Smith finished 1-for-3 with his knock up the middle stretching his reached base safely streak to a current team-long 25-straight games. WCU had four other batters reach including three drawing walks in Sparks, Cameron Blaquiere, and lead-off man, Brett Pope, while Matthew Koehler was hit by a pitch to reach successfully. However, WCU was unable to find the timely hit to advance the runners around the base paths.
Samford (26-18, 7-8 SoCon) took advantage of two hits and a pair of WCU errors in the fifth inning to break a scoreless deadlock in the home half of the fifth inning. A single by Taylor Garris ended up at third on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Kevin Williams Jr., who advanced to second. A sacrifice foul out by Anthony Mulrine put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard with Troy Dixon dropping a single into right to bring home the second run. The Bulldogs capped the three-run frame on a sacrifice bunt by T.J. Dixon to make it 3-0 through five.
The Bulldogs added four runs in the home half of the sixth including a run-scoring double by Garris, a two-run triple by Ayrton Schafer, and a single to left by Mulrine to push the game out of reach
Catamount starter Brendan Nail (4-7) was saddled with the loss, surrendering seven runs -- only five of which were earned -- on eight hits over five and two-thirds innings. A product of Greensboro, N.C., Nail struck out four against one walk. Senior Korey Anderson tossed the final inning and a third, striking out two in hitless, scoreless relief.
Samford starter Stephen Jones (3-3) tossed a one-hit shutout through five innings, working around three walks with a pair of strikeouts. Reliever Josh Rich scored his first save of the year by pitching two innings of hitless, scoreless relief, striking out three.
Garris and Troy Dixon led the Bulldogs with two hits apiece, Garris finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored while Dixon was 2-for-2 with a RBI. Schafer drove in two on his sixth-inning triple while Mulrine also collected two RBI.
Western Carolina breaks for final exams this week before returning home for a three-game series against the Wofford Terriers (24-20, 9-6 SoCon) in Cullowhee. The first two games on Friday and Saturday will have first pitch at 6:00 pm surrounding graduation ceremonies in Cullowhee, with Sunday's finale slated for a 2:00 pm start.