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Catamount Offense Stymied in Opening Round Loss to Samford

Sophomore starter Jordan Smith scattered nine hits through five innings with four strikeouts for WCU in the opener against Samford. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

May 24, 2012

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Greenville, S.C. - Western Carolina's league-leading offense was stymied by four Bulldog pitchers on Wednesday night as fourth-seeded Samford handed the Catamounts a 7-0 loss in the final game of day one at the 2012 Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field. Samford plated two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to stake itself to a lead it would never relinquish to advance into the winner's bracket.

The loss relegates the Catamounts into the loser's portion of the bracket, returning to the diamond at approximately 1:00 pm on Thursday in the second of two elimination games against eighth-seeded Furman. WCU swept the Paladins in Cullowhee during the regular season. Samford (36-21) advances to face top-seeded Appalachian State at 8:00 pm on Thursday night.

Bulldog starter Josh Martin tossed seven scoreless innings to improve to 12-1 on the season, becoming the first Division I pitcher to reach the 12-win plateau in 2012. The right-hander worked around three singles and four walks by fanning seven hitters before turning things over to the bullpen. Three Samford relievers pitched the final two frames of one-hit, scoreless relief to score the victory.

Austin Allison led the way at the plate with three runs batted, finishing 2-for-3 and scoring twice. He doubled and scored to put Samford on the board in the third, and the shortstop followed that with an RBI sac bunt in the fourth and a two-run single in the fifth. Samford's Phillip Ervin had three hits on the evening to lead all players.

Western Carolina starting pitcher Jordan Smith gave up six earned runs on nine hits in five innings on the hill. The Liberty, N.C., surrendered nine hits but worked around a pair of walks and two hit batters with four strikeouts. Seniors Andrew Blackwell and Darron Dotson combined to throw three frames, combining for five strikeouts while allowing four hits.

Junior first baseman Tyler White picked up two of the Catamounts' four hits on the evening, adding a walk to reach three times in the loss. Sophomore catcher Adam Martin singled and walked to reach twice with freshman Bradley Strong singling for the fourth WCU hit. Freshman Jacob Hoyle drew a pair of walks as the Catamounts earned five free passes on the night, with Julian Ridings recording a pair of successful sacrifice bunts.

One of WCU's best threats of the night came in the top of the sixth inning as Ross Heffley and White drew consecutive two-out walks to put runners at first and second, but the Catamounts could not capitalize. An inning later, Martin singled to open the frame and was moved to second on a Ridings sacrifice bunt before being stranded at third.