May 4, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Senior Jordan Smith matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts and Western Carolina received timely hitting including a go-ahead, fifth inning home run by classmate Dykota Spiess as the Catamounts claimed Sunday's Southern Conference series finale, downing archrival Appalachian State, 7-4, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The win, WCU's sixth-straight, completed the three-game SoCon sweep of the Mountaineers while representing the third, three-game series league sweep for the Catamounts this spring. WCU improved to 32-14 overall, 16-4 in SoCon play.
Smith (8-3) scattered seven hits - five of which were singles - and limited the Mountaineers to four runs that all came in the top of the fourth inning. The Liberty, N.C., native recorded strikeouts in seven of the eight frames he was on the mound including posting two-or-more punch outs three times, striking out the side in the first inning.
Junior closer Tyler Powell picked up his 10th save of the season - second on the weekend - stranding a pair of base runners in the top of the ninth inning and recording a series-ending strikeout.
Four Catamounts recorded multi-hit games in the Sunday afternoon victory. Spiess reached all four times he stepped into the batter's box, collecting two hits including the solo homer in the fifth with a walk and a HBP. Junior Jacob Hoyle drove home a game-high three runs on a 2-for-4 day at the plate, belting his SoCon-leading 14th home run down the right field line in the first inning. Senior Adam Martin added to his conference-pacing RBI total with a run-scoring first inning base knock, finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Junior Bradley Strong again served as a catalyst for the home squad, dropping a lead-off single into left field in the bottom of the first before promptly stealing second to move into scoring position. Martin continued his productive work at the plate, driving the first pitch of his at bat through the right side to allow the speedy Strong to scamper home from second base. The next batter, Hoyle, handed the Catamounts a three-run lead with a home run that hugged the right field line.
WCU stretched its lead to four in the third as Spiess was plunked with two outs before Luke Gragg moved him into scoring position at second base. A third senior, designated hitter Taylor Sandefur then doubled down the right field line to plate Spiess, making it 4-0 in favor of the home squad.
Appalachian State (16-29, 9-11 SoCon) clawed back in the top of the fourth inning as Dillon Dobson delivered his second home run of the series with a two-run shot to left center to make it 4-2. Jaylin Davis drove in a run on a RBI single up the middle before Zach Hummel reached on a fielder's choice that plated the game-tying run.
Deadlocked at four apiece, Spiess put the Catamounts ahead for good with his one-out long ball to right field. WCU would tack on two more runs in the seventh on a RBI single up the middle by Hoyle to drive in Jones with Gragg tallying a RBI on a ground-out to account for the final score.
ASU threatened in both the eighth and ninth innings, but solid defensive plays kept the three-run margin on the scoreboard. The Mountaineers put runners at second and third with a one-out single by Dobson and double off the bat of Tyler Stroup in the eighth. However, Smith struck out Matt Brill looking before Bradley Strong made a tremendous play to ground out Davis to end the frame. In the ninth, Powell worked around a fielding error and single that put runners at the corners with two outs, striking out hot-hitting Michael Pierson on four pitches to end the game.
Mountaineer starter Jeffrey Springs (2-4) gave up seven runs on 11 hits through six and a third in suffering the loss. Springs struck out four against three walks with one HBP. Taylor Thurber struck out three in tossing an inning and two thirds of hitless, scoreless relief out of the bullpen.
Pierson, Dobson and Stroup each collected three hits apiece for Appalachian State. Preston Troutman was held to a 1-for-5 showing with three strikeouts in the series finale.
Western Carolina now shifts its focus to final exams this week before returning to the diamond in league action at Georgia Southern next weekend in Statesboro, Ga. The Catamounts and Eagles open the three-game series on Friday, May 9 at 6:00 pm with a new 4:30 pm start on Saturday (due to GSU graduation), May 10 and 1:30 pm finale on Sunday, May 11.
Additional Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina improved to 80-46-1 all-time against Appalachian State on the baseball diamond including a 39-19 mark in games played in Cullowhee ... Since 1999, WCU improved to 19-5 against the Mountaineers at home with its third series sweep of the Apps;
- Jordan Smith matched his career-high of 11 strikeouts in Sunday's series sweep-clinching, 7-4, victory over Appalachian State ... Smith's previous career-best was 11 Ks against UNCG back in March of 2012 ... It was the second time this season that Smith recorded double-digit strikeouts, fanning 10 against The Citadel back on April 20;
- Smith moved into second place in program history with 355.0 career innings pitched, scoring his 25th career win which puts him alone in sixth place in the school ledgers ... He has 275 career strikeouts, fourth in WCU baseball history;
- Adam Martin singled in the first inning to stretch his safely-reaching streak to a career-best 17-consecutive games ... Martin's streak is tied for the third-longest on the team this season - Cody Jones reached in a team-best 23-straight games and Danny Bermudez had a 20-game streak earlier this season;
- The first-inning single by Dykota Spiess was his first hit of the WCU-ASU series, entering the finale 0-for-7 with a pair of walks and a run scored ... the solo homer by Spiess was his first since April 4, a round-tripper at UNCG, 16 games between home runs.