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Catamount Diamond Notes: 2017 Seasonal Wrap-Up

June 2, 2017

Final Season Record: 28-28 overall
Final Conference Record: 15-8 SoCon (2nd)

Catamount Baseball Diamond Notes:
- Western Carolina finished the regular season as the runner-up in the 2017 Southern Conference race ... It was WCU's fourth, top-two finish in the league over the past five seasons -- regular season champion in both 2013 and 2014, runner-up in 2016 and 2017;

- Including the 2017 SoCon Player of the Year Bryson Bowman, WCU had five players earn All-Southern Conference plaudits including Bowman and second baseman Nobu Suzuki on the first team; shortstop Brett Pope and starting pitcher Bryan Sammons on the second team; and freshman Andrew Robinson on the All-Freshman team;

- Five of Western Carolina's 2017 opponents advanced to the NCAA post-season including: Southern Conference representative, UNCG; regional host, Clemson; Big Ten champions, Nebraska; St. John's; and North Carolina State ... WCU was a combined 4-6 against those five squads with all 10 meetings coming away from home -- eight in true road games, two in neutral field meetings;

- All told, the Catamounts faced six nationally-ranked teams including No. 9 Coastal Carolina, No. 9 East Carolina, No. 12 Clemson, No. 16 St. John's, No. 20 North Carolina State, and No. 26 Missouri ... Clemson, St. John's, and Nebraska each finished the season among those nationally ranked in the various polls;

- Western Carolina appeared in the "others receiving votes" category of the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll in mid-December, 2016;

 

 

- WCU finished 25-1 when leading after eight innings with the lone loss coming in the SoCon Tournament -- but were 1-24 when trailing after eight innings and 0-23 when trailing after seven innings ... the Catamounts were perfect 7-0 when scoring exactly nine runs on the year and 10-2 when posting double-digit runs ... WCU hit two-or-more homers in 15 games, posting an 11-4 record ... the longest winning streak was seven while the team did not lose more than four-consecutive games all season;

- WCU had six different players post double-digit reached base safely streaks during the 2017 season including Bryson Bowman with a 42-game streak ... Bowman also finished the year with a second, double-digit game hitting streak at 13-straight ... Matt Smith reached in a career-long 37-consecutive games, seeing the streak halted in the conference tournament ... WCU's other double-digit reached base safely streaks included Brett Pope (18), Nobu Suzuki (17), Matthew Koehler (14), and Caleb Robinson (10);

- Bryson Bowman finished the season with WCU's best consecutive-game hitting streak, matching a school-record with his 27-game hitting streak ... It was the longest hitting streak by a player in the SoCon this season ... Matt Smith (13) and Nobu Suzuki (12) also both tallied double-digit hit streaks in 2017;

- Bryson Bowman became the 16th different Catamount to win the team's Triple Crown, leading the team in batting average (.381), RBI (59) and home runs (11) ... He was also the 16th different Catamount baseball player to garner SoCon Player of the Year accolades, an honor held by a WCU player a total of 18 times ... Bowman was the first coaches' pick for WCU since Kenny Smith in 2007 and first from the voting media since Tyler White in 2013;

- Western Carolina was the only team in the Southern Conference to have two pitchers reach or surpass the 100-strikeout plateau this year ... Senior LHP Bryan Sammons finished with a career-best 108 strikeouts and junior LHP Brendan Nail struck out seven in his SoCon tournament appearance for an even 100 on the year ... It is just the NINTH time in recorded SoCon history that two teammates had 100-or-more strikeouts in a season, the first since 2006 (Nick Chigges and Graham Godfrey, CofC) ... It was also the first-time in WCU school history to have two eclipse the century mark;

- All told, the SoCon had FIVE pitchers -- The Citadel's JP Sears (DI, regular-season best 142 strikeouts), VMI's Josh Winder (112), Sammons and Wofford's Adam Scott (108), and Nail (100) ... It's just the third-time ever that the SoCon had five pitchers with at least 100 strikeouts in the same season -- and the first since 2003 ... Sammons finished the regular season tied for 24th nationally with a career-high 108 Ks;

- Sammons and Nail combined for double-digit strikeouts in five different games this year -- three by Nail including a career-high 12 twice and Sammons twice including his career-best 14 against The Citadel, earning Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week honors;

- Bryson Bowman finished tied for first in WCU's annual single-season record books with eight sacrifice flies, while ranking 17th in school single-season history with a SoCon-leading .470 on-base percentage during the season ... Bowman also tied for first with a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield in 106 attempts with six outfield assists;

- Bryan Sammons tossed a team-best 104.1 innings in 2017, 10th in the school's single-season ledgers, while his 108 strikeouts were the sixth-most by a WCU pitcher ... Sammons was the 10th different Catamount and Brendan Nail the 11th WCU pitcher to eclipse the 100-strikeout plateau with Nail finishing 11th in single-season history with 100 punch outs ... Korey Anderson's team-best 30 appearances ranked tied for the 15th-most in a single-season;

- Western Carolina head baseball coach Bobby Moranda became the program's all-time winningest head coach, by-passing former skipper Jack Leggett (302 wins, 1983-91) ... Moranda claimed his 303rd career win in the three-game series sweep of VMI in late April and was honored prior to WCU's home game against Savannah State on April 25 with Leggett in attendance ... Moranda (312-256-2) concluded the 2017 season with 312 career wins -- 13th-best in the Southern Conference all-time, and currently the winngest active head coach in the league;

2017 Team Comparisons:
- 104 doubles -- the most doubles by a WCU squad since 2014;
- 60 stolen bases -- the fewest by a WCU squad since 59 in 2013;
- 11 saves -- gives WCU double-digit saves in five of the last six years;
- 352 -- the fewest total runs allowed since 2014;
- 311 -- the fewest earned runs allowed since 2014, resulting in lowest team ERA since 2014 (5.73);

Other Storylines from 2017:
- Western Carolina traveled 7,539 total miles during its 2017 season including two trips at-or-above 1,000 miles in length ... the Cullowhee to Columbia, Mo. (Missouri) and Lincoln, Neb. (Nebraska), swing totaled 2,118 ground miles while the late-year road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio (Cincinnati) and Muncie, Ind. (Ball State) was just under 1,000 miles at 939 round trip ... the average miles per 2017 road trip was 538.5.

- Two Catamounts successfully returned from injuries suffered before or during the 2016 season ... Sophomore LHP Tristan Baker successfully returned to form from an elbow injury to move into a weekend starting role ... Redshirt OF Matthew Koehler returned from a knee injury, playing in 52 games with 47 combined starts including 45 in left field and two in center field ... Koehler hit .303 with 13 doubles, two triples, and the first three home runs of his collegiate career;

- Newcomers making an impact: Junior transfer Cameron Blaquiere found a home at third base for WCU, starting 45 games at the hot corner ... Blaquiere ranked among the team leaders with seven home runs including two in a career day at ETSU where he homered twice as a part of driving in seven runs ... Redshirt freshman Justin Sparks started 12 times on the season including earning the nod behind the plate in the season-opener, starting eight games at catcher and four at DH ... Freshmen twin brothers Luke Robinson and Andrew Robinson both had an impact in the starting lineup through the season ... Luke started 17 games behind the plate and twice as the DH while Andrew settled into the outfield, starting the final 21 games consecutively as a part of 27 starts on the season ... Junior RHP Jake Niezen made 10 appearances out of the bullpen, tossing 12.1 innings -- of his 10 appearances, eight were scoreless and six were hitless.

WCU Baseball -- Career Charts Wrap-Up:
- Senior Matt Smith finished his WCU career ranked tied for 17th in school history with 216 career games played ... Smith accumulated 148 career RBI to finish 21st overall in program history ... Smith also finishing tied for 10th with 120 career walks (Mel Kinsey, 1980-83) and was tied for seventh with 35 career HBPs (Brian Sigmon, 2001-04) with Nobu Suzuki ranking 21st on the same list with 22 in two seasons ... Suzuki also finished ranked tied for fourth with 21 sacrifice hits in two seasons (Bradley Strong, 2012-15);

- In just two seasons, Bryson Bowman finished ranked 20th in program history with 30 career home runs including 19 as a redshirt junior and 11 in 2017 as a redshirt senior ... He finished tied for 14th overall in career batting average, hitting .353 (157-for-445) to match Kevin Bellomo (.353, 1988-91) ... He moved atop the team's career on-base percentage charts at .456 ... Bowman was tied for sixth in sacrifice flies with 13 (Bradley Strong, 2012-15 & Steven Strausbaugh, 2005-07);

- Senior LHP Bryan Sammons finished his WCU career tied for fourth with 27 career wins on the mound, matching Jason Beverlin (27, 1992-94), who was a 2008 inductee into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame ... Sammons' .675 winning percentage (27-13) rank him 11th in program history ... Sammons finished tied for 19th in appearances (71), second in games started (57, tied for 7th in SoCon history), second in career strikeouts with 325 -- a mark which also ranked him seventh in SoCon history -- and was fifth in WCU history in career innings pitched (339.2);

- Senior RHP B.J. Nobles finished 14th in program history with a 2.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio, fanning 169 during his career against 78 walks ... Used in a variety of pitching roles during his Catamount career, Nobles also finished with nine career saves to rank tied for 10th in school history, matching David Pember (1997-99) and Dan Kyslinger (1992).

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