March 25, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Western Carolina will host the College of Charleston for a three-game Southern Conference baseball series at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium beginning Friday at 6:00 pm. The weekend continues with a 3:00 pm first pitch on Saturday with the finale slated for 2:00 pm on Sunday afternoon.
Western Carolina (13-6-1, 1-4-1 SoCon) has been idle since splitting the weekend series with rival, Appalachian State, last weekend after its mid-week game against UNC Asheville was postponed due to poor playing conditions. College of Charleston (18-5, 4-2) has won six-straight including a 28-9 shelling of cross-town foe, Charleston Southern, on Wednesday afternoon. The Cougars are amidst a three-way tie for second-place in the conference standings entering the weekend.
With a history that only dates back to 1999 when Charleston joined the SoCon, Western Carolina trails in the all-time series with the Cougars, 12-29, including just a 6-9 mark all-time in games played in Cullowhee. All told, WCU has dropped eight of the last 11 meetings in head-to-head meetings.
WCU and CofC split the four meetings a year ago as the Catamounts dropped two of the three regular season contests in the South Carolina Lowcountry in mid-March before downing the Cougars, 12-4, in the SoCon Baseball Tournament in Greenville, S.C., on May 20.
In the last three-game series played in Cullowhee back in 2008, Charleston won the opening two games of the set before the Catamounts escaped with a 13-12 win in Sunday's rubber match. The two met a fourth time in '08, a second-consecutive, one-run affair that the Cougars won 5-4.
The Catamounts have only mustered one series victory since the Cougars joined the SoCon in 1999. Western Carolina took the three-game seasonal series against the College of Charleston in 2002 after winning two-of-three against the Cougars, which included two extra inning victories; 8-7 in 13 and 13-9 in 11 innings.
Collectively hitting .333 as a team - and with a roster that boasts three regulars over .400 and eight over the .300 batting average plateau - the College of Charleston comes to town averaging 9.3 runs per game. CofC has scored double-digit runs in 10 games this season, winning nine of those contests, and has blasted a SoCon-leading 31 home runs including a team-best seven for both Jose Rodriguez and Matt Leeds.
The Cougar pitching staff has a cumulative ERA of 5.91 with opponents hitting just .282 against them this season.
For Western Carolina, the squad enters the weekend just under the .300 mark collectively at the plate this season with 23 home runs, led by Ollie Goulder and Tyler Kirkpatrick each with five apiece. Sophomore transfer Cameron Dullnig paces the team with a .360 average, while Ross Heffley has driven in a team-best 18 runs on the year.
As a staff, the Catamount pitchers have a 4.34 ERA and have limited opponents to a .260 batting average against on the year. Daniel Ottone has five saves to date, tied for second in the conference.
One week after missing his scheduled Friday start at Appalachian State, senior Jason Sullivan will take the hill for the Catamounts in the series opener. Sullivan, who moved from the bullpen a year ago into the starting rotation this year, has limited opponents to just a .180 batting average against, tops amongst pitchers in the SoCon while his 32 strikeouts rank sixth in the league.
All three games of the series can be followed online with live GameTracker, presented by Carolina West Sports Medicine and the WestCare Health System, at CatamountSports.com.
Friday's Pitching Match-up:
CofC - Christian Powell (4-1, 4.55 ERA) vs. WCU - Jason Sullivan (3-1, 3.49 ERA)
Saturday's Pitching Match-up:
CofC - Kevin Decker (3-0, 2.50 ERA) vs. WCU - Matt Benedict (2-0, 3.26 ERA)
Sunday's Pitching Match-up:
CofC - David Peterson (2-2, 5.92 ERA) vs. WCU - Vance Chavis (2-3, 4.71 ERA)