In the history of Southern Conference baseball, three teams immediately come to mind: Georgia Southern, The Citadel, and Western Carolina. GSU is the defending SoCon champion with the Catamounts, having garnered that title on nine separate occasions.
And how about this for dominance: going into last weekend, The Citadel hadn’t lost a series to a conference opponent in three years since UNC Greensboro pulled out a sweep of the ‘Dogs in April of 1998.
Notice the past tense.
Last weekend, the Catamounts rallied after falling 7-0 on Friday to take Saturday and Sunday’s contests 7-6 and 12-6, winning the crucial conference series. It marked the first three-game series victory of the season where the Cats did not hit a home run.
On Sunday, Catamount starter Seth Foster, starting in place of Dan Foley, struck out a career-high seven en route to his third win of the season, 12-6. Foster scattered six runs, three earned, on 11 hits through seven and two thirds.
The bullpen performances of sophomores Joe Camac and Seth’s twin brother Ryan Foster were near perfect. The two combined for an inning and a third of scoreless ball, retiring all four batters faced in order. It was the third straight day the two had seen action from the pen.
The Cats had to battle back on two occasions. After going up 1-0 after the top half of the first, WCU fell behind 3-1 after one. They regained the lead 4-3 in the second only to have the Bulldogs retake command in the bottom half of the second 5-4.
Western Carolina put the game away in the fifth with a three-spot, adding five insurance runs between the seventh and eighth in the win.
At the plate, the Cats were led by junior Donovan Minero and second baseman Todd Roper. Both had multi-hit games, Minero going 3-for-5 with Roper hitting .500 at 2-of-4 with three runs scored. Both players doubled in the game.
Freshman Brian Sigmon led six WCU players with an RBI, tallying two on the day. Alan Beck stunned The Citadel defense in the top of the fifth as he stole home plate for the third run of the frame.
Saturday, the Catamounts battled back from 2-0 and 5-3 deficits to pick up the win over The Citadel 7-6. Sophomore Rod Goldston was 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and one RBI. Goldston’s lone run batted in was the game winner in the top half of the eighth, scoring pinch hitter Michael Roane.
Sophomores Beck, Todd Buchanan, and Ryan McCurry also posted multiple hits in the win, all three tallying two. Beck and Buchanan doubled in the game with Beck driving in a team-high two.
Starter Jared Burton again was denied his fifth win on the season, working five innings and giving up six runs on nine hits while striking out a pair. Camac and Foster worked four innings combined, surrendering two hits and a pair of walks. Foster picked up his first win on the season in three decisions.
The lone dark spot on the sunny weekend in Charleston was Friday as the Catamounts were shut out by The Citadel’s Eric Talbert. His complete game, six-hitter earned him SoCon Pitcher of the Week honors. Talbert struck out a pair and walked one in his seventh victory in 2001.
Roper and Beck accounted for four of WCU’s six hits. Beck singled and doubled, while Roper notched a pair of one baggers.
The Catamounts step outside of the conference this week, traveling to Atlanta to battle the Panthers of Georgia State before returning home to host East Tennessee State this weekend. Of the four remaining conference series, three are against teams that are below WCU in the SoCon standings.