May 18, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. - In a rematch of last year's Southern Conference baseball championship game, Western Carolina hosts The Citadel for a crucial three-game series this Thursday through Saturday at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. First pitch on both Thursday and Friday evening is set for 6 pm with the series to conclude with a 2 pm start on Saturday.
WCU will honor its six seniors playing in their final home series in a special pre-game ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Four-year seniors Matt Benedict, Matt Johns and Brandon Johnson will join transfers Andrew Chilcoat, Stephen Notaro and Austin Schultz with an on-field presentation prior to first pitch.
All three games are a part of "Fan Appreciation Weekend" with tickets just $3.
Coverage of each game will be available online through GameTracker. Western Carolina athletics is also offering a chance for fans to be immersed in baseball's weekend series with The Citadel, offering live blogs for all three games. Just follow the link provided: Cover It LIVE and sign into the chat box to catch all the action. Fans can follow the game, get in-game analysis and ask the moderator questions about the team, the race to the Southern Conference Tournament and feel like they are really there.
Western Carolina (19-29-1, 9-18 SoCon) enters the final weekend of the regular season tied for the eighth and final spot in the SoCon tournament with the Wofford Terriers at 9-18 overall. The Citadel is just a game back in the standings at 8-19 in league play. While the two winningest programs in SoCon history - WCU and The Citadel - battle in Cullowhee, Wofford hosts second-place UNCG which still has an outside chance at winning a share of its second regular season championship and the top seed in the conference tournament.
The Catamounts hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wofford by virtue of their two wins during the regular season over the Terriers, while Wofford has the edge over The Citadel after winning the season series two games to one.
Two wins for WCU this weekend coupled with at least one loss by Wofford or a three-game WCU sweep would land the Catamounts in the post-season tournament in Charleston, S.C., May 25-29 at Joseph P. Riley Park.
Elsewhere around the SoCon, Elon's magic number to claim at least a share of the regular season championship remains at one. Any combination of two Elon victories over Furman or two UNCG losses at Wofford would hand the Phoenix the outright championship and the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Despite dropping all four games in Charleston a season ago including the SoCon title game in May, Western Carolina continues to lead the all-time series with the Bulldogs, 69-59, including a 34-20 edge in games played in Cullowhee all-time. The Catamounts have won five of the last six meetings at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium, taking 2-of-3 during the 2009 season and sweeping the Bulldogs in 2007 - one of two series sweeps for the Catamounts since `07.
Both teams enter the weekend series looking to end substantial droughts. WCU has lost nine of its last 11 games, scoring wins at Appalachian State and the epic 16-inning victory at Furman last Friday. The Citadel has lost nine-straight games, its longest losing skid since 1987. The Bulldogs have dropped seven-straight against SoCon foes including a mid-week, nonconference showdown with cross-town rival, College of Charleston.
A pair of preseason first team All-SoCon selections are scheduled to face one another in the opening game of the series on Thursday evening. WCU senior Matt Benedict will square-off against Bulldog senior lefty, Matt Talley.
Projected Pitching Match-ups:
Thursday: WCU - Matt Benedict, Sr. RHP (2-4, 3.99) vs. CIT - Matt Talley, Sr., LHP (3-7, 3.81)
Friday: WCU - Jordan Smith, Fr., RHP (5-6, 5.83) vs. CIT - TBA
Saturday: WCU - TBA vs. CIT - TBA