CULLOWHEE, NC - Western Carolina opened up a close game with three runs in the sixth, and The Citadel failed to take advantage of several scoring opportunities as the Catamounts handed the Bulldogs a 7-2 defeat in the opener of a three-game Southern Conference series on Friday.
The Citadel (14-10, 0-1 SoCon) will look to even the series and snap a three-game losing streak in the middle game on Saturday at 2. The game can be seen on the SoCon Digital Network and heard on SportsRadio 1450 with Mike Legg calling the play-by-play.
Western (10-12, 2-2) led only 2-1 before the first four batters reached safely in the sixth against Bulldog starter James Reeves, including an RBI double just inside the bag at third by Danny Bermudez and a two-run single by Matt Smith that made it a four-run contest.
The Citadel got a run closer in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Drew Ellis, but a two-out error in the bottom of the inning set up a two-run homer by Bradley Strong. The Bulldogs put their first two runners on in the ninth before Western closer Tyler Powell finished off the Catamount victory.
Reeves took his first loss of the season following four wins, allowing seven hits and all seven runs (five earned) with two walks and four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Zach Lavery surrendered one hit with one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Catamount starter B.J. Nobles (3-0), who entered the game with an ERA of 2.18, gave up six hits and walked five in six innings but made the big pitch when he had to, stranding the bases loaded in the second, fourth and sixth innings.
The last of those frames was particularly harmful for the Bulldogs. Ellis singled, William Kinney walked and Ryan Kilgallen reached on a perfectly placed bunt to the right of the mound to begin the inning. But Nobles got Jacob Watcher to line out to second and then struck out Jason Smith and Johnathan Stokes to end the threat.
The Bulldogs left a total of 14 runners in the contest, and Nobles had eight of Western's 12 strikeouts.