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Catamounts splits Doubleheader regular season finale at VMI

Catamounts splits Doubleheader regular season finale at VMI

 


Lexington, Va. Western Carolina baseball split its regular-season doubleheader on Friday, edging home VMI Keydets 16-6 in game one before the opposite of a ninth-inning walk-off home run by falling 9-8 in the final game before next week's postseason tournament.

With the game one win on Friday, the Catamounts locked themselves into a top-four finish and the double-elimination portion of next week's Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases. The finals loss relegated WCU to a 13-8 regular season record, leaving the Catamounts tied for third in the final standings.

The official seedings and pairings will be announced by The Southern Conference following the conclusion of regular season games on Saturday, although the majority of seedings, including the top four receiving byes, have all been decided.

Zach Ketterman played the Catamounts between Friday's two games, finishing 5-for-9 with four extra base hits, including a double, a triple and two home runs, adding a pair of walks and an HBP. Drew Needham matched Ketterman with a .667 on-base percentage by finishing 4-for-8 (.500) with a double and two home runs, while also drawing three walks and an HBP. James Hinson reached base six times with three singles, a double and two home runs and added three walks, and was caught twice, bringing home a team-best five.

Trent Turner had five hits in 12 trips with a double and four RBI. Nate Stocum belted his team-best 20th home run of the season, tying him seventh in the WCU single-season record books for most home runs in a season since Kenny Smith hit 20 in 2007.

However, the story of the weekend was one of missed opportunities as the Catamounts dropped double-digit runners in all three games (10 runners in game one, 11 in game two and a frustrating 15 in the final for a total of 36 in the series).

WCU used a total of 10 pitchers between the two games, tallying 18 strikeouts, including a team-best four from starter Dante Visconti and savior Dusty Rev in game one and Gryffin Guinther out of the bullpen in game two.

Game One Western Carolina 16, VMI 6

Tied at three to four, Western Carolina outscored VMI 14-to-3 over the final five frames, including a seven-run ninth, to take the series to a 16-6 victory in front of the Twin on Friday morning Bill.

Trent Turner led four Catamounts with multi-hit games with a double and three singles in a 4-for-6 performance and drove in three. James Hinson (3-for-4) hit five, including a grand slam home run in the ninth inning Nate Stocum (1-for-4) and hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Kyle Harbison (2-for-4) hit a double and a runscoring single on a sacrifice bunt.

The two teams traded runs through the first two innings before the Keydets took a 2-1 lead after three completes. Turner then delivered a two-out, two-run double that gave the Catamounts a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning, before VMI tied the game in the home half of the frame.

Needham pushed the Catamounts ahead for good with a towering home run to center field in the fifth inning before Stocum connected on his three-run shot in the sixth for the 7-2 lead. WCU's scoring attack continued with a solo marker on a runscoring single by Harbison in the seventh, before Needham scored a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-2 in the final third. VMI got the run back in the home stretch of the eighth.

The Catamounts put the game away with a seven-inning top in the ninth inning as 11 Catamounts made swings. Ketterman delivered a run-scoring triple, his third three-bagger of the season, for Turner who scored Ketterman on a single up the middle. Mason Holton drew a bases-loaded walk for Hinson, who fired the grand slam to right-center.

VMI got back on the board and secured the final score with a two-out home run and two runs by Grayson Fitzwater.

The eight Keydet hits were spread among seven batters, while Kaz Jordan finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Fitzwater and Justin Starke (1-for-4) each drove in two runs in the losing effort.

Dusty Rev (7-1) scored the win in relief of starter Dante Visconti as the two combined for eight innings and eight strikeouts, each fanning four in 4.0 innings. Visconti limited VMI to three runs on four hits, avoiding a trio of walks, while Revis scattered three hits with one run allowed in his relief appearance. Cole Beverlin threw the final frame to secure the win, with VMI scoring twice on one hit.

VMI starter Trey Morgan (3-7) was saddled with the loss despite striking out seven in 5.0 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, including two home runs with four walks. Six Keydet relievers combined to close game two of the series, with Clark Driscoll striking out two in 1.1 innings.

Game two VMI 9, Western Carolina 8

Western Carolina scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning at a Zach Ketterman solo home run and an RBI double from the centerfield fence Drew Needham to close the regular season finale at 8 p.m. However, VMI senior Ty Swaim capped off his final home game with a solo home run to center field as the Keydets celebrated a 9-8 walk-off victory.

The Catamounts recorded double-digit hits for the third time in the series, outscoring VMI 12 to 10 with three players combining for three hits apiece. Ketterman (3-for-5) had his game with solo home runs and reached base four times while adding a walk. Drew Needham (3-for-5) capped a triple-digit swing of the cycle, including a solo homer in the first inning, with Jack Spyke (3-for-4) reached base four times in his return to the lineup after last weekend's injury. The Lawrenceville, Ga., singled twice before belting a runscoring triple in the seventh inning.

Hayden Friese (1-for-3) reached base three times with an RBI single and two walks Kyle Riesselmann he made a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.

Eight of VMI's nine starters posted hits, with hero senior Ty Swaim finishing 3-for-5 in the ninth inning and completing a triple-shy of the cycle. Classmate Justin Starke became VMI's all-time leader with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Grayson Fitzwater (1-for-2) reached base three times with a walk, HBP and a single.

WCU opened the season finale with a bang as Ketterman hit the first pitch of game two over the right-field fence for the first of two Catamount home runs, with Needham handing the guests a 2-0 lead with a second solo round-tripper in the opening frame. VMI cut the margin in half in the bottom half when Swaim led off with a double, then a wild pitch and sacrifice fly brought him home.

In the second inning, VMI took the lead with a three-spot, including a pair of doubles, to lead 4-2 after two.

The teams traded solo markers, with WCU scoring in the fourth on a Kyle Riesselmann sacrifice fly to score Hayden Friese before Starke homered to regain the two-run lead, 5-3.

The next three runs belonged to WCU, as the Catamounts took a one-run lead, 6-5, in the top of the seventh inning. Friese tied the game with a runscoring single before Spyke circled the base paths with his RBI triple. The one-run lead was short-lived, however, as the Keydets cashed in on a leadoff walk in the home halves of the seventh and eighth inning, posting a two-run lead, 8-6, in the ninth.

Ketterman pulled WCU back within a run on a solo home run and made good on his second from the day before Nate Stocum was plundered with two outs. Needham then hit a double off the top portion of the right-center outfield fence to send Stocum around before sliding across with the tying run. The Catamounts continued to threaten with the go-ahead on base, but Mason Holton initially fell victim on a close play following a throw from Swaim, which sent the game to the bottom of the ninth, tied at eight.

Swaim sent the home crowd home happy when he threw an 0-1 pitch to center for the walk-off victory.

Freshman starter Davis Budd pitched two innings and allowed four runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout before being waived. Spenser Hamblen pitched a team-long 3.0 innings with three freshman strikeouts Griffin Guinther fanned four 1.2-inning rescue efforts. Dylan Wieler And Paddy McGonigal both recorded strikeouts with Shane Huntsberger charged with run-scoring balk with one-third of an inning. Cannon Pickell (0-2) was tagged for the loss on the opening home run in the ninth inning.

Nathan Hawley (4-1) got lucky with the win after the walk-off homer, scattering three hits with two runs in 2.1 relief innings. He struck out two batters after walking a pair. Starter Andrew Jones threw 5.0 innings and gave up two runs on three hits.

Stay up to date with all things Catamount baseball and WCU Athletics through social media on Facebook (fb.com/CatamountSports), Twitter (@Catamounts, @CatamountBSB) and Instagram (wcu_catamounts, catamountbsb).

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