Western Carolina opened their 2001 Southern Conference season Sunday by splitting a doubleheader against the Terriers of Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, February 28, the Catamounts (6-9, 1-1) exploded on offense for a 19-10 win over UNC Asheville.
The opening game Sunday, at Duncan Stadium, saw the Cats dominate from start to finish to beat Wofford (4-10, 1-1) 10-1. The game opened with each pitcher controlling the game. Neither Jared Burton (2-1) for Western nor Wofford’s Tate Osterman (2-2) would allow a run in the first four innings.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, however, Western’s offense finally broke onto the scoreboard with four runs. Todd Roper began the scoring with an RBI single with two runners on. Alan Beck followed that up with a three-run homer.
WCU added a run in the sixth to increase their lead to five, then put the game out of reach in the eighth inning. There, they took advantage of three errors by the Terriers to post a five-run, two-out rally and double their lead.
Wofford would score their only run against Burton in the bottom of the eighth to put the score at 10-1, where it would end. Burton ended the game going eight innings, scattering eight hits, and allowing only one earned run. He also fired a season-high six strikeouts while giving up no walks.
Roper paced the Catamount batters with four hits, two RBIs, and two runs. At the same time, Beck went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs, and Todd Buchanan went 3-for-4 including two doubles and two runs scored.
In the opening contest, Wofford outlasted WCU to gain a 5-4 win. Wofford’s George Lehr (1-3) pitched a complete game to get his first victory of the year.
Each team traded runs in the first inning, and, going into the fifth inning, Wofford held a narrow 2-1 lead. Beck then blasted a double that would score Roper and Rod Goldston, and the Cats would take a one-run lead.
In the sixth inning, however, Terrier pinch-hitter Chris Cotugno came through with a two-out, two-run double to give Wofford the lead for good. Brian Casey followed this up with a single to score Cotugno and stretch the lead to 5-3.
Both sides would remain quiet at the plate until the top of the ninth inning. With one out, Western slugger Donovan Minero lifted his team-high fifth homerun of the season over the fences, a solo shot that would reduce the Wofford lead to a single run. That was as close as the Cats could pull, however, and they would run out of outs with the score standing 5-4.
Goldston and Beck would pace the offense, each with two hits. Goldston would cross the plate twice, and Beck would drive in two runs and smack his eighth double of the season.
Western starting pitcher Seth Foster did not figure into the decision, as he pitched five innings giving up two runs on two hits and striking out three. Ryan Basner would get charged with the loss, giving up three runs in two innings of relief.
The Catamounts had their biggest offensive output of the season, defeating the Bulldogs of UNC Asheville 19-10 last Wednesday at Hennon Stadium.
Asheville began the game strongly and took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth. This is where the momentum would change, however, as Western scored nine runs in the frame to take a five-run lead they would never relinquish.
Goldston began the inning with a double down the line and was followed with a Beck single that would score Goldston. Two batters later, Ben Rhoney brought Beck home with a triple, and Ryan McCurry then hit an RBI single.
Three batters later, the bases were loaded for Roper, who hit a fly ball to left that was dropped, clearing the bases. Goldston continued the onslaught with a two-run homer.
Refusing to yield, the Bulldogs would continue to chip away at the lead and, after a three-run eighth inning, pulled to within three at 13-10.
The Catamounts would answer quickly, however, and add six more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Four of these runs came with one swing of the bat, as Minero hit the first WCU grand slam of the season.
Robbie Hoover (1-2) picked up the win in relief for the Catamounts, figuring mostly because he came in just prior to Western’s huge fifth inning.
Beck led the Cats’ batters going 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Goldston chipped in with three hits and three RBIs.
Roper also had three hits, including the home run. McCurry and Ryan Schade each had two hits as well for the Cats, who had 18 as a team.
Next, Western will take on the Bulldogs again at Hennon Stadium. After this one-game stint, the squad will travel to South Carolina to take on the College of Charleston this weekend in a three-game set.