Two out of three ain’t bad for Catamount Baseball

With the threat of bad weather looming over the Piedmont-Triad area, it was not enough to deter the Catamount baseball team from claiming their 3rd straight Southern Conference series as they take 2-of-3 from the Spartans of UNC-Greensboro at the UNCG Baseball Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina over the weekend of April 13 and 14. The wins improve Western record to 23-and-12 on the year and 8-and-4 in the Conference.For the first seven innings of the Friday nights’ match-up, it was pitcher’s duel, but Western used patience hitting over the final two innings to score four runs and take a 5-2 win in game 1 of the series.The Spartans would make their mark on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the 3rd on a fluke play from Western’s outfield as Barrett Shaft’s throw from centerfield looked to be on target with home plate but would end up bouncing off the pitcher’s mound allowing the Spartans to take a 1-0 lead. Three innings later, Freshman Brent Greer could not have picked a better time to hit his 1st collegiate home run, knocking a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right-centerfield to tie the game at 1 after 6 innings. Two innings later, Western’s bats, which had been quiet for most of the night, finally woke up as Nick Liles came up with 1 out and knocked a double to right-center and moved to 3rd on a ground out from Greer and scored on a double from Shaft, who would score and make it a 3-1 game on an RBI single from Jonathan Greene, who in the process, was tagged out at 2nd trying to extend a single into a double. UNC-Greensboro would lead off the bottom of the 8th with a triple, signaling the end of a solid night for Catamount starter Tyler Sexton and bring on reliever Greg Holland, who, despite walking the a pair of batters with nobody out, managed to get out of a bases loaded jam thanks to a crazy double play. Western would add a few extra runs in the top of the 9th as John Ingram led off the inning with a walk and moved to 2nd on a sacrifice from Kenny Smith. Ingram came around to score on triple to right field from Steven Strausbaugh to give the Catamounts a 4-1 lead. Strausbaugh would come into score as Liles reached base on an error from UNCG’s 3rd basemen. The Spartans managed to push across a run in the bottom of the 9th, but Holland used a strikeout and ground out to prevent any more damage and to salvage the win, 5-2.Shaft, Greene and Greer each posted 2-for-4 days at the plate as the only Catamount players with multiple hits. Sexton improved to 6-and-0 on the season by allowing only a run over 7 innings of work, giving up 6 hits, while walking 1 and striking out 5. Holland pitched a pair of solid innings, giving just the 1 run and struck out a batter. Despite walking 3 batters, he picked-up his 7th save of the year.With the threat of rain in the forecast, The Catamounts and Spartans played a pair on Saturday afternoon and each won a game. In game 1, Western took advantage of 4 Spartan errors and used it to have 2 big innings to take the 1st game of the double dip, 11-1.With the game tied a 0 going into the 5th inning, Steven Strausbaugh started off the inning with a sure out to right field, but the fielder could not hang on and got charged with an error. Strausbaugh would later move to 2nd on sacrifice from Tyler Kirkpatrick. After a Nick Liles walk, Strausbaugh later scored on an RBI double from Brent Greer, moving Liles to 3rd base. Barrett Shaft brought in both Liles and Greer with an RBI double to right field. Blake Murphy brought in Shaft as he reached on an error to make it a 4-0 game. Jonathan Greene also reached on an error as John Ingram brought in Murphy on an RBI single. Greene later came around to score on fielder’s choice from Kenny Smith. Western picked up another run on the top of the 6th on another RBI double by Barrett Shaft to make it a 7-0 game. Western picked up 4 more in the top of the 9th, while UNCG avoided the shut-out by scoring a run on a solo home run in the bottom of the 9th as Western takes game 2 of the series, 11-1.Shaft continued his hot hitting as of late with a 4-for-5 performance from the plate to go along with 3 RBIs. Murphy and Ingram each posted multiple hit games by going 2-for-4 and 2-for-5 respectively. Despite giving up 8 hits on the day, Drew Saberhagen did not allow a single walk and struck out a batter over 8 solid innings of work. Bryan Corbett came on in the 9th and preserved the win, despite giving the homer.Game 2 of the doubleheader saw Western’s 9-game winning streak come to an end, despite out-hitting the Spartans, 12-11. In the end, Western fell to the Spartans in the series finale, 9-4.After a pair of scoreless innings, the Catamounts got on the scoreboard in the top of the 3rd as Brent Greer led off the inning with a double to right field, moved to 3rd on a ground out from Barrett Shaft and scored as he and Blake Murphy pulled off the old double steal. Murphy would eventually get tagged out at 3rd on the play. Western held onto the lead until the bottom of the 5th when things just unraveled as UNC-Greensboro exploded for 7 runs. Western trimmed the lead to 7-2 in the top of the 6th as pinch hitter Jason Haynes picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly to center field. The Spartans came back in the bottom half of the inning with 2 more runs. Western made one last desperate attempt in the top of the 9th with 2 runs on an RBI double from Kenny Smith and an RBI single from Steven Strausbaugh, but that would be as close as Western would get as they were denied their 4th straight series sweep, 9-4.Strausbaugh was 1 of 2 batters to have multiple hits going 3-for-5 on the day. Greer was the other batter, going 2-for-3. After a pair of impressive starts, Corey Martin got tagged with his 1st loss of the season, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits while walking a batter and striking out 4.