In their first series of the 2001 season, head coach Todd Raleigh and the Western Carolina baseball team dropped three games to the eleventh-ranked Auburn Tigers this weekend in Auburn, Alabama.
“Going into Auburn playing the number 11 team on the road in front of 3,000 fans, it’s no easy task, and we just didn’t get it done,” said Raleigh on the Cats’ first series of the season against a tough opponent. “But they knew that they had two fights on their hands wrapping up the weekend.”
He added, “I’m not disappointed in the team; I’m disappointed for them. Saturday and Sunday were totally different.”
The Catamounts wrapped up the three game series on Sunday, falling 5-4 to Auburn as the Tigers plated four runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Western Carolina led 4-1 going into the bottom of the ninth after its three-run eighth, but a pair of hit bats-men and two loaded the bases for the opportunistic Tigers. Dan Foley, pitching in relief, threw two wild pitches and surrendered an infield single to give the game to Auburn.
Sophomore Ryan Foster was saddled with the loss after recording an inning and two-thirds, facing ten batters, and striking out a pair. WCU had a great start from Ryan Basner, who went six and a third innings, surrendering one run on three hits and striking out three.
The Catamounts were led at the plate by senior catcher Matt Price, who went 2-for-3 with a double and scored a run. Designated hitter Doug Meyers went 2-for-4 at the plate on Sunday with a homerun and a double.
In the finale, Raleigh stated that his team played “outstanding defense” and “did some good things against a good AU pitcher” but simply “didn’t finish the game.”
Saturday’s tilt was equally as exciting with the Cats tying the game at two-apiece in the sixth yet yielding a pair of runs late to give AU the 4-2 victory.
“Saturday was tight all of the way through,” said Raleigh. “We had a lot of opportunities with runners on but couldn’t seem to get that hit that’d get them home.”
Catamount hurler Joe Camac took the loss after only pitching one inning in relief of starter Jared Burton. Burton went four and two-thirds, surrendering two runs on five hits. Camac faced four batters, walking one and giving up the winning run.
Second baseman Todd Roper led the Cats against AU pitching, going 2-for-4 scoring a run. Rod Goldston and transfer Donovan Minero added WCU’s RBIs in the loss. Goldston’s lone hit on the day was a double, and Minero added a stolen base.
The first game of the three-game series was the most lopsided of the weekend. On the heels of an eight-run fourth inning, which broke a scoreless tie, the Tigers routed the Cats 14-1.
Goldston led the Cats at the plate going 2-for-3 on the day. First baseman Alan Beck was 2-for-4 and was a part of ten putouts of the afternoon. Ben Rhoney, who went 1-for-3 on the day, had WCU’s only extra base hit.
“We had one bad inning Friday and gave up the eight-spot, and that was the difference in the game,” said Raleigh.
In his first action since a two-thirds of an inning performance last season at Carolina, Robbie Hoover took the loss after three innings of work in which he surrendered four runs on four hits and striking out a pair.
The Cats committed three errors in the game.
Western Carolina will travel east this weekend to take on the 20-ranked East Carolina Pirates. Raleigh is very familiar with the ECU squad because he helped bring a large majority of it in during his stint in Greenville.
“They’re a good club,” said Raleigh. “They’ll probably swing the bats better than Auburn, but they’re beatable. We’ve got to play well and give ourselves a chance to win.”
He added, “If we get the pitching that we got this past weekend, we’ll be all right. We definitely won’t be able to sneak up on them after they see the scores from Auburn.”