May 9, 2011
Boone, N.C. - Erasing a five-run deficit with a 10-run top of the fifth inning, Western Carolina downed archrival Appalachian State, 13-7, on Monday afternoon in Southern Conference action at Beaver Field / Smith Stadium.
While the Catamount offense erupted for 10 runs on eight hits midway through Monday's series finale, the WCU bullpen tossed five hitless, shutout innings in the victory. Senior Andrew Chilcoat (1-0) tossed four and a third of hitless, scoreless relief to pick up the victory, working around two walks with a strikeout. WCU's defense also turned a pair of double plays behind the White Hall, Md., native to help keep ASU off the board.
WCU (18-26-1, 8-16 SoCon) jumped on top in the opening frame as freshman Macon Smith bounced a ground-rule double over the center field fence ahead of Ross Heffley who blasted a 1-1 pitch on a line drive home run over the left field fence for the early 2-0 lead.
However, the Mountaineers scored seven-straight runs to surge in front, answering WCU's two-run top of the first with two of their own in the bottom of the opening inning. Appalachian pushed across two runs in the second before plating three in the home half of the fourth to take the five-run advantage after four complete.
Momentum began to swing, though, in the top of the fifth inning. Mountaineer starter Seth Grant (4-7) had retired seven-straight Catamount batters since an Aaron Attaway single in the second inning when Cameron Dullnig opened the inning with a single through the right side before stealing second and moving to third as the relay to second skipped into centerfield. WCU loaded the bases as Luke Gragg was plunked by a pitch and Austin Schultz walked ahead of Smith. Behind in the count 0-2, the Greensboro, N.C., native tripled down the right field line to pull the Catamounts back within two, 7-5.
With Smith 90 feet away, Heffley was hit by an errant pitch to put two aboard in front of Stephen Notaro who crushed a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right center field, bouncing it off the scoreboard for the three-run home run as the Catamounts reclaimed the lead, 8-7.
The onslaught continued as Tyler White singled to center and promptly swiped second base which allowed him to score on a RBI double to left center field by Matt Johns. A second-consecutive RBI double off the bat of Dullnig plated Johns for a three-run, 10-7, advantage. Capping the scoring was a RBI single by Gragg and Schultz doubling him home.
Five of the eight hits in the inning went for extra bases with 14 Catamounts taking swings during the frame.
An inning later, WCU capped scoring as Heffley belted his second homer of the contest with a solo shot to left center to give the Catamounts a 13-7 lead. With that six-run lead, the Catamounts pitchers and defense took over, keeping the Mountaineers off the board to score the win.
Taylor Sandefur worked three and a third innings in the start for WCU, factoring in the no-decision after Notaro's home run put the Catamounts ahead for good. Sandefur struck out four against five walks, giving way to Preston Hatcher who recorded a third of an inning with a hit, walk and a hit batsman issued. Senior Brandon Johnson closed the game with a perfect final inning, striking out Preston Troutman to end the game.
Five Catamount hitters recorded two-hit games with three tallying three-RBI performances against the Mountaineers on Monday. Combined, WCU hit eight home runs over the three-game series including three by Notaro and Heffley's two round-trippers.
Grant (4-7) took the loss for the Mountaineers after being chased during WCU's 10-run inning. He allowed nine runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts coming early against one walk. Reliever Ryne Frankoff gave up three runs on four hits in two thirds of an inning with three additional hurlers wrapping up the game for ASU.
Offensively for the Mountaineers, the five hits were scattered between five players with Trey Holmes driving in a pair. Zack Briggs also recorded two RBI on an official 0-for-2 performance. Preston Troutman reached four times with three walks and a hit batsman, finishing 0-for-1 with the game-ending strikeout.
With the victory on Monday, WCU moved into a three-way tie with The Citadel and Wofford for eighth-place, the final cut-off for the SoCon Tournament at the end of the month in Charleston, S.C. The Catamounts currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Terriers after taking two-of-three in the seasonal series in Cullowhee, while WCU hosts the Bulldogs in the final regular season series of the year in two weeks.
Western Carolina hosts Kennesaw State in mid-week, nonconference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium on Wednesday night with first pitch at 5 pm. The Catamounts then return to league play with three games at Furman beginning with a 7 pm first pitch on Friday night.