May 26, 2004
Charleston, S.C. -
Brian Sigmon went 3-for-3 and drove in the game-winning run in the eighth inning as eighth-seed Western Carolina edged top seed College of Charleston 4-3 in the first round of the 2004 Southern Conference Championship Wednesday, played at Riley Park. The Catamounts (26-29) become just the fourth SoCon team ever to hand a top seed a first-round loss and the first since 1994.
Sigmon, last year's SoCon Championship Most Outstanding Player, picked up where he left off adding a run scored to his performance. Junior Mike McGowan added two hits and two RBI, while Jared Greenwood was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
On the mound for the Catamounts, Brad Josey earned the win, improving to 5-4 on the season, pitching 7.0 innings and scattering 10 hits for three runs. He struck out three and walked none. In fact, the WCU pitching staff did not allow a free pass in the game, fanning six. Brian McCullen, who allowed just one hit, worked the eighth for Western, striking out two of the four batters he faced. Derrick Hawk closed out the game to pick up his third save of the season. Although he allowed a two-out double, Hawk fielded a Brett Gardner ground ball and threw him out at first to end the game.
Western jumped out to an early 1-0 in the top of the first. Todd Roper sent the second pitch of the game through the left side of the infield and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a Chris Davis groundout moved Roper to third, Greenwood followed with an RBI groundout to third, scoring Roper on the play.
The Cougars (42-13) took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second. Designated hitter Kevin Bulger singled to start the home half and Brett Anderson was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Jess Easterling moved the runners up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout, Chris Campbell blooped a two-run single to left field, scoring Bulger and Anderson.
In the top of the fourth, the Catamounts tied the game at 2-2. With one out, Sigmon walked and moved to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Denver Edick. Gowan then drove in Sigmon after reaching on a fielder's choice.
Charleston threatened in the bottom of the fourth. As he did in the second, Bulger singled through the left side. After a strikeout, Easterling doubled and Bulger tried to score on the play as WCU's Brandon Zollman's throw back to the infield looked to be errant. However, Edick picked up the ball and threw out Bulger at the plate.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Cougars regained the advantage (3-2), scoring a run on three hits. Anthony Fairchild blooped a one-out single to right center. After an out, Gardner singled to put runners on second a third. Barber followed with a single to left, scoring Fairchild on the play.
Western battled back and tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth. Greenwood and Sigmon had consecutive singles to start the inning. After a strikeout, McGowan delivered a single to left-center field, bringing home Greenwood to tie the game.
In the top of the eighth, Western regained the lead (4-3), scoring one run. Greenwood had a leadoff ground-rule double and scored one batter later on an RBI-single to right-center by Sigmon, chasing CofC starting pitcher Reid Price. New Cougar pitcher Nick Chigges walked Edick and McGowan followed with a single to load the bases. However, Chigges got a pair of ground outs to limit the damage.
For the Cats, Roper extended hit hitting streak to 10 with his 2-for-4 performance and he tied the SoCon all-time record, laying down his 28th career sacrifice bunt. Zollman added two hits as well.
Charleston got two hits from Gardner, Bulger, Easterling and Fairchild each. Price suffered the loss, falling to 6-4 on the year. He allowed 11 hits and four runs in seven-plus innings pitched with a walk and five strikeouts.
Western Carolina will face Elon on Wednesday at Thursday at 4 pm in the second round of the Southern Conference Championship.