May 11, 2014
Statesboro, Ga. - Danny Bermudez and Adam Martin collected two of Western Carolina's four hits on home runs, but Georgia Southern held off Western Carolina in the third, one-run game of the weekend series, downing the Catamounts, 3-2, Sunday afternoon at J.I. Clements Stadium.
Four different hitters combined for the four hits for Western Carolina, which fell to 33-16 overall and 17-6 in Southern Conference play. The Catamounts dropped into second place in the conference standings, percentage points behind Davidson, which was idle this weekend.
Georgia Southern (33-20, 15-12 SoCon) opened scoring in the bottom of the second inning as Saturday's hero, Stryker Brown, led off with a triple past a diving Dykota Spiess in right center field. Two batters later, Brown raced down the third base line on a bunt attempt by Chase Griffin, beating the throw at the plate for the 1-0 lead.
In the top of the next frame, Bermudez belted his first career home run on a full-count round tripper to left field that deadlocked the series rubber match at one through three innings. Bermudez worked the count before homering to left on a 3-2 pitch for the equalizing run.
The home squad pulled back in front in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Eagles loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Brown, who led off the frame with a single up the middle, scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch making it 2-1.
WCU nearly had the game-tying run in the sixth inning as J.D. Long drew a lead-off HBP before being sacrificed into scoring position by Reece Strong. Back to the top of the order, Bradley Strong singled into center field with Long rounding third and barreling home. The throw from center field skipped off the infield grass with the Eagles' catcher successfully blocking the plate, forcing Long to avoid the collision, but was tagged out keeping the margin at one, 2-1.
GSU tacked on an insurance run in the seventh as catcher C.J. Brazil drew a lead-off walk before eventually scoring on a wild pitch - GSU's second such score of the day - to make it 3-1.
Martin led off the ninth with his second solo home run of the weekend series - 12th of the year - to make it 3-2. Spiess followed with a one-out single, but the Catamounts were unable to secure the tying marker as a double-play ended the inning and the game.
Catamount starter Jeremy Null (5-3) was saddled with the tough-luck loss, striking out three against two walks in six and a third innings of work. The right-hander from Claremont, N.C., allowed all six GSU hits and three runs. Senior T.J. Fussell threw two thirds of an inning out of the bullpen, relieving Null after a 30-plus minute weather delay, with Tyler Powell striking out one in an inning of work in the eighth.
GSU starter Ryan Frederick (4-0) scored the victory after allowing just one run on one hit - the Bermudez homer - in five innings, striking out five without a walk. Jason Richman picked up his third save of the year, holding WCU to one run on three hits over the final four frames, walking one.
Western Carolina returns home for the final four games of the regular season beginning Tuesday by welcoming nonconference foe, Kennesaw State, to Childress Field / Hennon Stadium for a 5:00 pm first pitch. Tuesday's game is presented by Mountain Trace Nursing and Rehab with all fans 55-and-over receiving $5 admission pricing, courtesy of Mountain Trace Nursing and Rehab.
The Catamounts host SoCon-leading Davidson for a three-game series on Thursday and Friday in Cullowhee with the regular season championship on the line. The final home games are presented by Kostas Family Restaurant of Dillsboro, N.C.