May 13, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina rallied from a five-run deficit with a seven-run bottom of the seventh inning on Tuesday night to upend Kennesaw State, 8-6, in midweek nonconference action at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
WCU (34-16) capitalized on six walks and two hit batters in the decisive seventh with senior Adam Martin delivering the lone hit of the rally with a bases loaded double to left center field that tied the game at six. The Catamounts tacked on two additional runs in the frame to score the victory, halting the Owls' 16-game winning streak which had been the nation's longest active run.
WCU handed Kennesaw State its first loss since April 5, a span of over a month without a defeat for the Owls.
Five different Catamount hitters combined for the team's five hits in the nonconference win. Martin padded his SoCon RBI lead on his 10th double of the season, finishing the game with 60 runs driven in. Redshirt senior Taylor Sandefur collected his fifth double of the year, adding an RBI on a sacrifice, with freshman Dylan Prevatte plating a pair of runners on a 1-for-2 outing at the dish. Luke Gragg drove home the game-winning run with his second walk of the seventh inning.
Catamount freshman B.J. Nobles (1-0) earned his first collegiate win after tossing two thirds of a frame of hitless, scoreless relief out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh inning. Sophomore Colton Davis tossed a perfect eighth with a strikeout to set up junior Tyler Powell who scored his 11th save of the year, working a three-up, three-down ninth inning.
Powell assumed sole possession of third place in WCU's single-season record books with 11 saves, while his 13 career saves rank him eighth in program history.
Sophomore transfer Taylor Durand struck out three against three walks in his longest outing for the Purple & Gold, tossing three and a third in the starting role before running into trouble in the fourth. The Oak Ridge, Tenn., native issued a bases loaded, run-scoring walk to break the scoreless deadlock with the Owls pulling ahead, 1-0. However, second-year reliever Jonathan Waszak slammed the door with a strikeout and ground ball out to leave the deficit at one through four.
Kennesaw State (30-21) took a four-run lead with three runs in the top of the fifth inning, loading the bases for a second-straight frame. The runs were driven in on a sacrifice fly and a single with an error on the play allowing the third marker to cross.
The Catamounts were able to scratch the scoreboard for their first run in the home half of the fifth after Taylor Sandefur doubled down the first base line to move Luke Gragg to third. Freshman Dylan Prevatte then reached on an infield single on a shot that was just out of the reach of first baseman Clint Wynn to make it 4-1.
A second WCU error in the top half of the seventh inning allowed Kennesaw State to push across two additional runs to stretch the margin to five at 6-1, setting up the decisive bottom of the frame.
KSU reliever Nathan Harsh, who entered in the sixth inning and worked around a walk with a strikeout, took the mound to start the seventh. However, after his warm-up tosses, was taken from the mound by the athletic training staff. Reliever Will Lowman came out of the bullpen and issued three-consecutive walks to load the bases. Right-hander Andrew Austin (0-1) got the first out on the first pitch he threw in relief of Lowman as Prevatte reached on a fielder's choice along the middle of the diamond, but hustled down the line to beat out the would-be double-play while allowing Gragg to score to make it 6-2.
Bradley Strong was then plunked by a pitch to re-load the bases before Cody Jones drew a seven-pitch walk to cut the margin in half at 6-3. Martin then drove a 0-2 breaking ball to the gap in left center field, pushing three runs across to knot the game at six.
WCU's rally continued as junior Jacob Hoyle drew the fifth base on balls in the frame with Danny Bermudez reaching after being plunked by a pitch to load the bases a third time. Gragg drove home the go-ahead run on the sixth walk of the inning before Sandefur plated the game's final run on a sacrifice foul out deep into the right field corner allowing Hoyle to rumble home with the insurance run.
Austin (0-1) took the loss after surrendering four earned runs on three walks and just one base hit, Martin's double.
Kennesaw State had two players record multi-hit games as both Kal Simmons and Jacob Bruce finished 2-for-5 in the loss while designated hitter Brennan Morgan drove home three on a 1-for-3 outing. Morgan drove home runs on a walk, a sacrifice fly and a fifth-inning single.
Western Carolina wraps up the 2014 regular season this weekend by hosting Davidson - which leads the SoCon standings by percentage points over the second-place Catamounts - for a three-game conference series slated for Thursday and Friday. First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 5 pm with a 2 pm start to Friday's double-header. The final home games are presented by Kostas Family Restaurant of Dillsboro, N.C.