CULLOWHEE, NC - Western Carolina knocked out six hits and took advantage of two key errors in an eight-run seventh, rallying the Catamounts to a 12-5 victory over The Citadel to clinch the Southern Conference series.
The Bulldogs (14-11, 0-2 SoCon) will look to snap a four-game losing streak and salvage the final game of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game can be seen on the SoCon Digital Network and heard on SportsRadio 1450 with play-by-play announcer Mike Legg calling the action.
The Citadel built a 4-1 lead on a two-run double by Connor Walsh in the fifth and still led 5-3 after Jason Smith singled and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh. The two RBI pushed Walsh's total to a team-leading 29 on the year.
The Catamounts (11-12, 3-2) then sent 13 men to the plate in the bottom of the inning, tying the game on a safety squeeze and going in front when a hard ground ball was deflected off the foot of Kevin Connell and rolled to the vacant right side of the infield, allowing Garrett Brown to score all the way from second.
After an error by Walsh in right, Western went on to score six more times in the inning including consecutive run-scoring singles by Danny Bermudez, Reece Strong and Austin Atwell to break the game open.
Freshman southpaw JP Sears went 6 1/3 innings in his first career SoCon start, allowing six hits and five runs (four earned) with no walks and seven strikeouts and was not involved in the decision. Sears came within one strikeout of his season high and was lifted after an error by Johnathan Stokes allowed the first run of the decisive inning to come across.
Stokes blasted his second home run of the season and ninth of his career to tie the game at one in the third. The Bulldogs went ahead an inning later when William Kinney doubled and scored on a base hit by Stephen Hansen. It was only Hansen's second career hit but produced his fourth RBI, including a three-run homer against Lafayette earlier this season.
After Walsh's double upped the lead to three, the Catamounts began their comeback with a solo homer by Atwell in the fifth and another tally in the sixth.