March 29, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina (14-12, 5-4 SoCon) returns home to Childress Field / Hennon Stadium for a three-game Southern Conference series against The Citadel (15-10, 4-2 SoCon) with first pitch set for 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon.
WCU comes into the game after splitting a pair of mid-week games, winning most recently in come-from-behind fashion with four runs in the top of the ninth inning against Gardner-Webb. The Catamounts dropped their most recent home SoCon series, losing the final two games against Elon last weekend.
The Citadel has not played a SoCon game since mid-March, taking 2-of-3 from Wofford on the road. The Bulldogs have lost three of their last four games overall, but two were against perennial powers South Carolina (L, 9-5 on March 19) and at Georgia Tech (L, 5-4 on March 26).
WCU is 5-1 versus The Citadel the past two seasons, and enter the weekend having won the last four, three-game conference series over the Bulldogs held in Cullowhee dating back to 2005.
Projected Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday, March 29
WCU: RHP Jeremy Null (2-1, 3.45 ERA) vs. CIT: RHP Austin Pritcher (3-1, 2.21 ERA) Saturday, March 30
WCU: LHP Morgan McKinney (1-2, 3.92 ERA) vs. CIT: TBA (So. LHP James Reeves or Jr. LHP Logan Cribb)
Sunday, March 31
WCU: RHP Jordan Smith (1-3, 4.86 ERA) vs. CIT: RHP Austin Mason (2-1, 5.52 ERA)
LEADING OFF FOR WESTERN CAROLINA:
The Catamounts continue a swing that will see the team play six-straight "Bulldogs," beginning back on Wednesday night with a come-from-behind victory over the Runnin' Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb ... WCU faces The Citadel Bulldogs for a three-game series before a midweek, non-conference home-and-home with the UNC Asheville Bulldogs;
Western Carolina plays four-straight home games including the SoCon series with The Citadel before hosting UNCA next Tuesday ... Next week is the second-straight week for WCU to play five-games in a week including two midweek;
WCU snapped a three-game seasonal losing skid with it's come-from-behind victory over Gardner-Webb on Wednesday ... the Catamounts had lost back-to-back games to Elon and fell Tuesday at Wake Forest before the 5-2 win in Boiling Springs ... All told, WCU has lost five of its last eight games entering the weekend series with The Citadel.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. THE CITADEL - THE SERIES:
Western Carolina and The Citadel have met 134 times on the diamond in a series that dates back to 1974 ... the two programs are the winningest in Southern Conference history, combining for 41 SoCon regular season and tournament championships - The Citadel has 21 total titles including 13 regular season championships and eight tournament titles while WCU has 20 titles including winning the regular season 11 times with nine tourney crowns;
The Catamounts have won two-straight games overall against The Citadel, winning the road series, 2-1 last spring ... All told, WCU has won five-straight games over the Bulldogs in Cullowhee, sweeping the series in 2011 and taking the final two in 2009 in winning the series ... Dating back to 2005, WCU has won nine of the last 10 series meetings played at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium ... the Catamounts have won four-straight home series over The Citadel including sweeping the Cadets in 2007 and 2011.
CATAMOUNT BASEBALL DIAMOND NOTES:
Western Carolina has recorded double-digit hits 15 times this season and has nine-or-more hits in 19 games ... WCU has been held to single-digit hits its last three games, the longest such streak of the season;
Despite slipping a bit this past week, the Catamounts have clawed their way up to fifth in the Southern Conference in batting, raising their seasonal average to .286 while leading the conference with 266 total hits and 55 doubles ... This weekend's opponent, The Citadel, leads the league in batting average at .310 while also pacing the SoCon in slugging percentage (.468) and on-base percentage (.397);
WCU's pitching staff now ranks second in overall team ERA at 3.91 and opposing batting average against, limiting foes to .265 ... WCU leads the SoCon with 215 combined strikeouts and paces the conference with nine runners picked off base;
WCU ranks fourth in the SoCon in field percentage (.961) with a league-leading 1020 chances and 704 putouts ... WCU's 21 double plays turned ranks third in the SoCon;
Eight different pitchers have started games this spring for the Catamounts ... Two pitchers from the weekend series with Hofstra - Colton Davis and Jacob Hoyle - made their first collegiate career starts;
Seven of Western Carolina's 13 seasonal opponents to date have a .500-or-better record on the season ... Notably, WCU's season-opening opponent, Washington State, won 2-of-3 on the road at then 14th-ranked Arizona State;
The Cats have played three extra inning games on the season, all coming away from home ... WCU won its first extra inning game in the SoCon opener at Davidson in 13 innings.
SOMETIMES IT'S HOW YOU START... AND HOW YOU FINISH:
Western Carolina has held leads in 21 of the 26 games this season including scoring in the first inning 11 times, outscoring its opponents 28-to-12 in the first frame;
WCU has scored in the eighth-inning or later in a winning effort five times this season ... All told, WCU has outscored its opponents 37-to-22 from the eighth inning on including 21 runs in the eighth inning alone.
CATAMOUNT BASEBALL CAREER CHARTS WATCH:
Senior closer Preston Hatcher picked up his sixth save of the year in Wednesday's come-from-behind win over Gardner-Webb giving him 16 saves for his four-year career ... He moved into a tie for fifth-place with Ward Withrow (1987-88), by-passing former right-handed closer Daniel Ottone who had 15 saves from 2007-10 now in seventh ... Ryan Foster recorded 22 saves from 2000-03 to rank first on the ledger;
Hatcher has made 67 career appearances to rank tied for 18th on the school's all-time ledger, tied with Gary Shamp (1984-87);
Senior infielder Tyler White moved into a tie for 17th place in WCU's record books for doubles, now with 46 in his career ... He is tied with former Catamounts Barrett Shaft (2005-08) and Steven Strausbaugh (2005-07) ... White additionally ranks ninth in hit by pitches (HBP) with 30 and is tied for fifth in sacrifice flies with 12, matching Ross Heffley (2009-12) and Blake Murphy (2004-08);
Junior RHP Jordan Smith has moved into a tie for 21st in the school ledgers for career strikeouts, matching Ken Hare (1980, `82-84) with 165 career K's;
WCU has three pitchers with 100-or-more career strikeouts, with a fourth closing in on the century mark ... Jordan Smith has a team-high 165 strikeouts in his first three seasons with Jeremy Null (107) and Preston Hatcher (106) and at-or-above the 100 mark ... Morgan McKinney has 97 career K's in his three seasons for the Purple & Gold.