Catamounts take 3 from Davidson

For the 2nd straight week, Western Carolina swept a Southern Conference series and improved to 20-and-11 and 6-and-3 in the conference with a 3-game sweep of the Davidson Wildcats over the weekend of April 6-8 at Wilson Field in Davidson, North Carolina. In the 1st game of the series Thursday night, the two teams combined for 24 runs, but in the end, it was Western who managed to put more runs across in a 13-11 victory. The Catamounts started off the game by putting up a 4-spot thanks to two hits and an error by the Wildcats’ catcher. In the bottom of the 2nd, it was Davidson taking an advantage of a Catamount error to make the score 4-2. Blake Murphy made it a 5-2 game in the top of the 3rd by starting off the inning with a bunt single to 3rd base, and came around to score on a wild pitch from Davidson starter Matt Knight. Murphy would make it a 6-2 game in the 4th on an RBI single to leftfield. Over the next three innings, the two teams would combine to score 16 runs, seven by the Catamounts and nine by the Wildcats. After the scoring parade ended, WCU closer Greg Holland would come on in the bottom of the 8th to shut door with four strikeouts to preserve the win, 13-11. Six Catamount players had multiple hit games, with Murphy and senior Kenny Smith each going 3-for-4 on the game. Jonathan Greene, John Ingram and Nick Liles all went 2-for-4 in the game. Barrett Shaft would round out the multi-hit games with a 2-for-6 performance as he continued to excel at the plate. Bryan Corbett improved to 1-and-1 on the season by allowing a run on two hits with one walked batter and a strikeout over an inning and a third. Holland’s’ performance over the final two innings allowed him to earn his 5th save of the season. Western used the long ball and solid pitching in the second game of the series to hold off a late threat by Davidson to take the victory 10-4 on Friday evening. Senior Kenny Smith started off the top of the 2nd with a lead off single centerfield and trotted home on a 2-run shot to center by Steven Strausbaugh to make it a 2-0 game. In the top of the 5th, designated hitter Tyler Kirkpatrick led off the inning with a single and moved to 2nd base on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to 3rd base on a sacrifice fly. He trotted home on Western’s 2nd homer of the game, this time from Blake Murphy for the 4-0 lead. Davidson made it a 4-1 game in the bottom of the inning but Western would make it a 6-1 game in the 7th on a 2-run single from John Ingram and scored on the 3rd homer of the day by Smith, a first pitch shot to left field for the 8-1 lead. In the top of the 8th, Western showed that you don’t need the long ball to put runs on the board as Freshman Brent Greer drove in fellow Freshman Nick Liles from 3rd base on a single to left field. The next inning, Smith hit his 2nd homer of the day, as well as the team’s 4th for a commanding 10-1 lead. Despite putting three runs across in the 8th and 9th innings, Davidson would be held in check by a scoreless 7th inning from Chris Masters and solid pitching over the last two innings from Ryne Nelson and Andrew Larrimore to hold on for the win, 10-4. Smith’s 3-for-5 day at the plate contributed largely to the Catamounts’ victory, with two of those hits going for homers. Murphy and Jonathan Greene also had multiple hit games going 2-for-5 and 2-for-2, respectively. Drew Saberhagen picked up his 3rd win of the year, by allowing just a single run on four hits, walking a batter and striking out a season-high four batters over six unyielding innings of work. After scoring a combined 23 runs in the first two games of the series, Western was only able to muster across two runs in game three. That would be all they would need to win the game, 2-1 and earn their 2nd straight conference series sweep of the year. With the game tied at 0 after five innings, Western broke the tie by playing a little small ball with Blake Murphy drawing a walk with 1-out and stealing 2nd base as teammate Jonathan Greene would reach base courtesy of the walk. Murphy would come around to score for the 42nd time this season on an RBI single to left field from by John Ingram to take a 1-0 advantage. On the next at-bat, Western pulled of the old double steal as Greene took 3rd while Ingram moved up to 2nd. On that play, Greene advanced home as the Davidson 3rd baseman, Chris Fitzpatrick, could not handle the throw from catcher, Tommy Piacenza, to make it 2-0. Davidson got one of those runs back in the bottom of the 8th on a 2-out RBI single, but the threat would end there as Catamount reliever Greg Holland came into the game and did what he does best-shut the door-earning his 6th save of the season as Western completed the 3-game sweep, 2-1. Ingram was the only Catamount with multiple hits having two of Western’s four hits on the day, going 2-for-4. Despite the low amount of hits, Western did have six walks on the game. Freshmen Brent Greer and Nick Liles had Western’s only other hits on the day, each going 1-for-4. Sophomore Corey Martin had another solid outing as a starter, going five and 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on five hits, while walking one and striking out five. Holland earned the save, pitching two innings only allowing two hits while striking out three.