Western Carolina baseball jumped all over the College of Charleston within the first two innings to overwhelm the Cougars with a final score of 12-4 on Wednesday, May 20 in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament. Fourth-seeded Western Carolina pounded out 20 hits to advance past fifth-seeded College of Charleston at Flour Field in Greenville, S.C.
Junior Chris Masters tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts through seven innings while classmate Brent Greer tallied four hits to tie the school’s single-season hits record.
Greer finished 4-for-5 with two doubles and a couple of runs scored to move into a three-way tie with Kevin Bellomo (1991) and Keith LeClair (1988) at 101 hits, tied atop the single-season record book. The 101 hits also overtook the SoCon lead this season. He also moved into sole possession of fourth-place with 22 doubles this year, four shy of tying former Catamount standout Rod Goldston.
Masters (6-2) scattered nine hits and four earned runs through seven frames, striking out 11 including at least one in each inning he worked. Brandon Johnson took over in the eighth, finishing the final two innings with a walk and a strikeout while surrendering two hits in scoreless relief.
Western Carolina (35-20) scored six runs on seven hits in the second inning to take an early 6-0 lead over the Cougars. After the six-run second inning, the Catamounts added to their lead in the third with a Lyons solo home run. The Catamounts began the scoring attack with J.C. Lyons singling to left field, plating Stephen Notaro and Greer. Nick Liles, who went 3-for-5, then legged out his first of two doubles to left field scoring Lyons and Matt Johns to provide the Catamounts with their next two runs. Dylan de Graaf scored on a groundout by designated hitter Trevor Collias and Liles scored on a single by Ross Heffley to close out the inning.
In the seventh inning, both teams scored three runs apiece. The Cougars’ Austin Morgan scored on a Joey Bergman double to right field. In the next at bat second baseman Brandon Sizemore delivered a two-run homer scoring Bergman.
The Catamounts equaled the Cougars three runs with a Heffley triple to right field that scored Collias and de Graaf. Greer brought in Heffley with a double to center to close out the scoring.
Johns stretched his career-best hitting streak to 21-straight games with a 2-for-4 effort, while Heffley finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Lyons belted his eighth home run of the season, clearing the fence in left center as a part of a 2-for-5, three RBI performances.
The Cougars’ Jesse Simpson (9-4) took the loss after giving up 15 hits and nine earned runs in five and two-thirds innings of work. In a losing effort, Joash Brodin went 3-for-5 to lead the way, with Morgan doubling twice in a 2-for-4 showing.