Feb. 21, 2014
Pullman, Wash. - The Western Carolina Catamount baseball team opens a four-game nonconference road series at Washington State on Friday evening at Bailey-Brayton Field in Pullman, Wash. The four-game set is a part of WCU opening with seven of its first eight games on the road.
All four games of the road series are scheduled to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio online through CatamountSports.com. Fans can also follow along with live stats on www.WSUCougars.com with live video stream on Saturday and Monday through the same site.
The Catamounts (2-2) got the 2014 season off to a strong start on Feb. 14, securing the ninth victory over a top 30 ranked team under head coach Bobby Moranda with the 3-2 win over No. 2 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs' number two ranking was the highest team defeated by the Catamounts under its current skipper.
Despite dropping the final two games in Starkville, Miss., WCU returned home to even its seasonal record with an 8-0 blanking of Winthrop on Tuesday afternoon at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
For a second time this season, the Catamounts will provide the home-opening opposition. Washington State (1-3) opens its home slate against WCU after playing its first four games in California. The Cougars dropped 2-of-3 at nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton. After suffering a 12-0 shutout loss to Fullerton in the opener, WSU rallied to even the three-game series with an extra inning, 9-7, victory in 11. The Titans won the series with a 5-4 win in the finale. WSU enters Friday's contest following a mid-week road loss at Cal State Riverside.
Seven members of the Cougars' 2014 baseball team have been selected in various MLB Drafts dating back to 2010.
Western Carolina leads the all-time series with Washington State, taking 2-of-3 a season ago in the first-ever meeting between the two programs on the baseball diamond. The Catamounts used a five-run fifth inning in the 2013 season opener to pull ahead, 6-2, through five en route to an 8-5 victory to take the series lead. WCU clinched the series victory in the second game, scoring three-or-more runs in three different innings as a part of a 15-10 win.
The Cougar bullpen held the potent Catamount offense in check in the series finale as Washington State salvaged a win, 4-1. WSU out hit the home squad, 12-to-4, and used a three-run top of the seventh to pull off the win.
Including the 2-1 mark against WSU, the Catamounts are 5-3 all-time against current members of the Pac-12 conference. WCU first faced Stanford out of the West Coast-based conference, upending the Cardinal 5-0 in the 1992 NCAA South II Regional held in Tallahassee, Fla. WCU fell to Arizona State in the 1994 NCAA Mid-East Regional before taking 2-of-3 from the then No. 24 USC Trojans back in 2009.
Among WCU's returning players, junior first baseman Jacob Hoyle led the team with a .364 (4-for-11) batting average against Washington State with a double and three RBI. Senior shortstop Aaron Attaway was .357 (5-of-14) with two doubles, three runs scored and five RBI. His classmate, Cody Jones, hit .273 (3-of-11) with a five runs scored.
On the mound, WCU's Friday night starter, junior Jeremy Null, earned "Louisville Slugger" National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball after striking out 13 Cougar hitters in seven innings of work to pick up the season-opening win. Null scattered six hits against just one walk, allowing two runs.
Senior Jordan Smith, who is slated to get the ball on Saturday afternoon, won his match-up with Washington State, fanning four with four walks in five innings of work. Junior reliever Tyler Powell pitched in all three games, striking out four in three innings of work with just one unearned run allowed on four hits while Bryce Danielson tallied the only other returning strikeout for the pitching staff.
For Washington State, returners Jason Monda and Nick Tanielu both had six hits in the series in Cullowhee last February with Tanielu doubling twice. Tanielu is leading WSU through its first four games this season with a .438 (7-for-16) average with two doubles and a pair of RBI. Monda has struggled out of the gates with a 1-for-12 (.083) start.
Projected Pitching Matchups:
Friday - WCU: RHP Jeremy Null, Jr. (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. WSU: RHP Scott Simon, R-Jr. (0-1, 27.00 ERA)
Saturday - WCU: RHP Jordan Smith, Sr. (0-1, 6.23 ERA) vs. WSU: RHP Tanner Chleborad (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
Sunday - WCU: RHP T.J. Fussell, GS (0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. WSU: LHP Jason Monda (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Monday - TBA