March 4, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. - The Western Carolina baseball team heads east this weekend to play in the seventh annual Keith LeClair Classic at East Carolina University. WCU will open up with Big East foe West Virginia on Friday at 1:00 p.m., while playing Illinois on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. and wrapping up the three-day event on Sunday with host ECU at 2:00 p.m.
GameTracker for this weekend's series will be available online at CatamountSports.com.
The Catamounts are off to their best start in school history with a 6-1 record after series wins over Gardner-Webb and Eastern Kentucky. Western Carolina also picked up a mid-week victory over Charlotte, 5-3, last Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Senior Tyler Kirkpatrick leads the Catamount offense with a .419 average after posting 13 hits, three home runs and eight RBI. Catcher Ollie Goulder led the Catamounts last weekend against EKU after hitting a pair of roundtrippers in Sunday's, 5-4, win over the Colonels.
On Friday, WCU will face West Virginia for the third time in school history. The Mountaineers (2-5) are coming off the Big East / Big Ten Challenge, where they picked up an 18-14 victory over Purdue on Monday. WVU is led offensively by Matt Frazier, who holds a .450 batting average, after notching nine hits with five runs scored and three RBI. Junior Jarryd Summers will make his third start of the year for the Mountaineers. Summers has not recorded a decision in his previous outing and holds a 6.23 ERA. Right-hander Jason Sullivan (2-0, 6.35 ERA) will make the start for WCU. West Virginia picked up an 8-7 victory over the Catamounts on Feb. 29, 2008 at the Coastal Carolina Bash at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Illinois will face the Catamounts on Saturday morning in day two of the classic.
The Illini are 1-2 after defeating Notre Dame, 11-1, but falling to South Florida and St. John's in the Big Ten / Big East Challenge. Matt Dittman hit a solid .666 in the first three contests with six hits collected and three RBI. Brian de la Torriente (0-1, 5.06 ERA), a right-hander, will face WCU's Kyle Stewart (0-0, 6.97 ERA) in Saturday's contest. Western Carolina and Illinois are split in the series, 1-1, after the Catamounts defeated the Illini, 14-13, at the Stetson Invitational in 2006.
The finale of the Keith LeClair Classic will feature the Catamounts and the Pirates on Sunday afternoon. East Carolina (4-3) is ranked in all five college polls, ranking No. 14 in Baseball America and No. 21 in Collegiate Baseball. The Pirates are coming off a series victory over South Carolina last weekend. Dustin Harrington leads ECU with 11 hits, a home run and four RBI. Lefty Vance Chavis
(2-0, 3.00 ERA) will start for the Catamounts on Sunday. In his last outing on Sunday, Chavis recorded his first career complete game and secured a 5-4 win over EKU. The last meeting between these schools happened at the Chapel Hill Regional in 2007. Western Carolina defeated the Pirates, 9-5, on June 3.