Freshman right-hander Kyle Stewart worked five and a third of one-hit baseball to win his first collegiate start while classmate Ross Heffley posted a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with a double and two RBI as Western Carolina surged past East Tennessee State, 11-5, in nonconference action on Tuesday, Mar. 11, at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Seven Catamounts posted multi-hit games as WCU pounded out 17 base hits and 11 runs. It was the fourth double-digit scoring tally for Western this season and the seventh double-figure hit performance. Western improved to 9-2 on the season and remained perfect at home, 7-0, at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium.
Western Carolina opened the scoring with a three-spot in the home half of the third inning on a two RBI double down the left field line for junior Brent Greer, who finished 2-for-5 with a double and three runs driven in. Junior Tyler Kirkpatrick capped the scoring with a hard ground out to plate Heffley, who was intentionally walked earlier in the frame.
East Tennessee State (5-5) responded with three in the visitor’s half of the sixth inning. The Catamounts added a four-run homer in the eighth and were able to hold on for their fourth-straight win.
Heffley and junior Nick Liles, who finished 2-for-5 with a double each, stretched their current hitting streaks to 11 and 13 games, respectively. Senior Andy John tallied his first two hits of the season in a 2-for-3 outing, while Matt Johns finished 2-for-2 after taking over at first the final three innings.
The following day’s victory did not come as easy for the Catamounts.
Trevor Collias capped off a 3-for-5 performance at the plate with a lead-off triple in the bottom of the ninth inning and later scored the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by J.C. Lyons as Western Carolina scored five runs in the final three innings to rally past East Tennessee State, 6-5, on Wednesday, Mar. 12.
Collias rapped a three-bagger to the gap in left center on a full-count pitch to get WCU started in the ninth. Hot-hitting freshman Ross Heffley and junior Brent Greer were both intentionally walked by the Bucs to load the bases with no outs ahead of Lyons. ETSU also made a substitution that brought on five infielders with just two outfielders.
Each team added a run in the eighth to set up the ninth, tied at five apiece. Drama began in the top of the ninth after the Catamounts had rallied to knot the game at five. Freshman reliever Andrew Blackwell, who finished with four strikeouts in 2.1 innings of relief work, was chased after allowing a single up the middle to open the visitor’s half of the final frame.
The Bucs managed to load the bases with one hit and a walk off junior closer Daniel Ottone (1-0). However, the Cary, N.C., native was able to slam the door shut with a strikeout of Derek Trent with the bases loaded to keep the game tied and eventually earn Ottone the victory after the eventful bottom of the frame.
Western trailed 4-1 entering the seventh inning before back-to-back, one-out base hits by Liles and pinch-hitter Stephen Notaro. Collias then came through with a two-RBI single down the right field line to trim the deficit to one, 4-3. Greer later pushed Collias across with his sacrifice fly to tie the game at four.
ETSU’s Bo Reeder (1-2) was the tough luck loser after relieving starter Ben Andrews from his fielding position at third in the seventh. He went 2.0 innings and allowed three runs on four hits with three walks in the loss. Andrews kept the Catamounts at bay most of the afternoon, surrendering three earned runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts in the no decision.
Heffley saw his 11-game hitting streak – which spanned his entire collegiate career – ended with a 0-for-4 showing at the plate with the one free pass.