Home Runs lift Catamounts past Buccaneers

With the Southern Conference tournament a few weeks away, Western has been on a roll as of late. After losing 4 straight at the end of March, the Catamounts have won 10 of their last 11 games, including a 7-3 win of former Southern Conference opponent, the East Tennessee State Buccaneers in front of 437 fans at Hennon Stadium. The win improves the Catamounts record to 24-and-12 on the year, while the Buccaneers drop to 24-and-16. Western’s home-run hitting started early in the game as it almost looked like the Catamounts would score nothing in the 1st until Jonathan Greene belted a homer to left field for the early 1-0 lead. East Tennessee State would tie the game up at 1 in the top of the 3rd on an RBI sacrifice fly. Western would re-take the lead in the bottom portion of the inning as Dylan de Graaf drew a 1-out walk and moved around the bases to score on back-to-back singles from Barrett Shaft and Blake Murphy to make the score, 2-1. ETSU claimed their 1st and only lead of the game in the top of the 4th with 2 runs for a 3-2 lead. Western looked like it would still trail by a run in the bottom of the 6th but John Ingram would reach base on a 2-out single and trot home after Kenny Smith blasted a 2-run homer, his team-leading 12th of the season, to left field and reclaim the lead 4-3. The next inning, the Catamounts added another run as pinch hitter Andy John drew a 2-out walk before advancing to 3rd on a single by Shaft and plated home on an RBI single from Murphy. Western was not done scoring on the day though, as Steven Strausbaugh knocked a 0-2 delivery over the right field fence for a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th, the 3rd Catamount homer on the game and his 3rd of the season. Brent Greer reached base on an error by the 2nd basemen to score Nick Liles, who singled and stole 2nd in the at-bat before Greer’s. Reliever Greg Holland came into the game in the top of the 9th and shut down the Buccaneers in a non-save situation to preserve the win for the Catamounts, 7-3. The Catamounts were led by 2-for-4 days from both Murphy and Shaft, who improved his SoCon best batting average to .427 on the season. Smith’s home run in the game added 2 more RBIs to his team leading 50 RBIs on the year. Set-up man Brock Thornburg improved to 2-and-2 on the season picking up the win despite giving up 2 runs on 3 hits, while walking nobody and striking out 5.