Western Carolina claims Parkway Series with win

The inaugural Parkway Series between Western Carolina and UNC-Asheville has come to an end for the season, and the trophy has found a home in the valley of Cullowhee. With a 12-6 Catamount Baseball win over the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs in front of 328 fans at McCormick Field in Asheville, North Carolina, Western clinches the trophy against the Bulldogs in head-to-head competition this year, 8-5 with 2 events still to go. With the win, the Catamounts improve to 21-and-11 on the year. The Bulldogs fall to 13-and-23. Western came out on a chilly night, firing on all cylinders with lead-off batter Barrett Shaft and Blake Murphy each reaching base with nobody in the top of the 1st. Shaft got on by a single and Murphy reached on a double, but with 2 outs, UNC-Asheville looked like it would get out of the inning with no damage. With Kenny Smith drawing a walk, things just got worse for the Bulldogs as Steven Strausbaugh hit a chopper to shortstop that Bulldog Matt Henson could not field cleanly, allowing 2 runs to score. Jason Haynes would make UNC-Asheville pay for that mistake by knocking a double off the high wall in right that would’ve been out in most ballparks scoring Smith from 3rd to make it a 3-0 game after the 1st. In the top of 2nd, Shaft smacked an RBI double to center that scored Brent Greer all the way from 1st base for the 4-0 lead. Jonathan Greene reached 1st by being hit by a pitch followed by a Smith walk. Strausbaugh came up with the bases loaded and cleared them with a monster shot off the scoreboard in right-centerfield, which like Haynes’ hit, would’ve been out in most ballparks, but ended up being a 3-run double. Haynes would add on an RBI single that would provide the 8-0 advantage after 2 innings. The Bulldogs would not go quietly though, picking up a run in the bottom of the 4th to make it an 8-1 game.Western would come back in the top of 6th with 4 more runs coming with 2 outs as John Ingram kept the inning alive with a single and scored on a double by Smith. Smith plated home on an RBI single by Haynes, and Tyler Kirkpatrick rounded out the scoring with a 2-run double, scoring Haynes and Strausbaugh for a 12-1 margin after 6. The Bulldogs showed they still had some fight left in them by scoring 5 runs over the 8th and 9th innings against the Catamounts, who pulled every starter off the field except for one. In the end, Western’s offense was just too much as they leave the home of the Asheville Tourists with a 12-6 win.Haynes led the Catamounts, going a perfect 4-for-4 on the day with 3 RBIs. Shaft and Ingram each had 2 hits on the day, going 2-for-5 and 2-for-6, respectively. Chris Masters got his 5th win of the season by allowing only a run on 4 hits with 3 walks and 4 strikeouts over 5 innings of work. Brock Thornburg, Andrew Larrimore and Ryne Nelson all combined to pitch the final 4 innings of the game.