Muncie, Indiana - Senior left-hander Bryan Sammons struck out four in eight solid innings on the mound, and six Catamounts posted multi-hit games as Western Carolina claimed game one of its three-game nonconference series against Ball State on Friday by a score of 10-2. WCU's victory at First Merchants Ballpark Complex halted a three-game slide while also ending Ball State's five-game winning streak.
Western Carolina (25-24) used a five-run fourth inning to erase a one-run deficit and grab a four-run, 6-2, lead and never looked back. The Catamounts tacked on an insurance marker in the sixth and had a three-run ninth to provide the final tally in the first-ever meeting with Ball State.
Eight of WCU's 16 total hits came from the bottom third of the order in the opener. Returning to the lineup from injury, redshirt sophomore Matthew Koehler reached base four times with a 3-for-4, three-run performance. Koehler added one of WCU's eight walks, and has reached base in 10-straight games in which he's appeared. Junior Cameron Blaquiere also collected three hits in the winning effort, driving in two runs in a 3-for-4, two-run outing.
The first three in WCU's lineup in junior Brett Pope (2-for-6), freshman Andrew Robinson (2-for-4), and redshirt senior Bryson Bowman (2-for-3, double) each tallied two hits apiece with Bowman and Pope both driving in two runs. Junior catcher Spencer Holcomb reached base five times, plunked three times while collecting a pair of singles in a 2-for-2 showing.
Pope and senior Matt Smith both extended their double-digit reached base safely streaks as Smith finished 1-for-5 with a walk for a 31-game reached base safely streak. Pope reached for the 14th-consecutive game.
Trailing by a run, 2-1, through three complete, Western Carolina seized control of the game in the top of the fourth inning, batting around and pushing five runs across the plate. Back-to-back one-out walks and an infield single by Holcomb loaded the bases for WCU ahead of Blaquiere, who singled to right field for his second RBI of the day. Pope then dropped a run-scoring single into center before Andrew Robinson beat out an infield single to drive in a run with a throwing error allowing a second marker score. Bowman then doubled down the right field line to cap the inning scoring.
WCU manufactured a run in the top of the sixth on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Nobu Suzuki before pushing the game further out of reach in the ninth with a three-spot including a Pope single and a Bowman sacrifice fly.
Sammons scattered seven hits over his eight innings of work, countering four walks with four strikeouts while also inducing two double-plays. The Wilmington, N.C., native limited the Cardinals to two runs coming on solo markers in the first and third innings. Junior Jake Niezen tossed the ninth inning with a walk and a strikeout to close out the win.
Ball State (27-23) starter Colin Brockhouse (3-2) took the loss, surrendering six runs on six hits with three walks and a strikeout in three and a third inning. Reliever Evan Marquardt held the Catamounts to a run on seven hits over four and two-thirds innings, while David Current was tagged for three runs on three hits in a third of a frame.
Cardinals' centerfielder Matt Eppers (2-for-5) and first baseman Caleb Stayton (2-for-4) both recorded two hits apiece for the Cardinals. Designated hitter Caleb Stayton drove in a run on a sacrifice fly while outfielder Jeff Riedel singled home a run to put Ball State on the board in the first inning.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday afternoon with first pitch at 1:00 pm. Fans can follow the game with live audio from the Catamount Sports Network, streaming online at CatamountSports.com.