Spartans fall on walk-off hit to Western Carolina, 11-10
CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Matt Johns delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to score Dylan de Graaf from second to complete a six-run rally for Western Carolina as UNC Greensboro fell to the Catamounts, 11-10, on Friday evening at Hennon Stadium.
Reliever Brandon Johnson picked up his fifth win of the season for the Catamounts (26-14-1, 9-9-1 Southern Conference) after pitching the final two innings without allowing a hit. Zach Furl suffered the loss after giving up three runs on four hits in three innings of work.
Second baseman Ray Quinones led the Spartans (18-24, 5-17 SoCon) by going 2-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Corey Overholtzer and Ed Jayjack each added a pair of RBI as well.
Austin Schultz went 2-4 with two RBI and two runs scored for WCU and Ross Heffley chipped in two hits and two runs scored as well.
In a game that lasted over four hours and ended early Saturday morning, the Catamounts still had enough in their tank to pull out the come-from-behind victory. Ollie Goulder led off the inning with a walk, but he was doubled off of first when Cameron Dullnig's popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt to Furl who threw over to first for the double play.
de Graaf then hit a double to left center to move into scoring position and Schultz followed with a walk. Johns then slapped a 2-0 pitch into left field and the Spartan throw to the plate was just a little late as Schultz slid in safely for the winning run.
The Catamounts struck first in the bottom of the first as Austin Schultz led off with a home run to right field. Johns followed with a single and stole second before advancing to third on a wild pitch. After a pair of outs, Trevor Collias drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Johns and Collias then scored on a throwing error to give Western Carolina a 3-0 lead.
The Spartans responded though with three runs of their own in the top of the second inning to tie the game at three. Quinones led off with a double down the right field line and Eric Brindle singled to move Quinones to third. Cody Walker stepped to the plate with a double to right center to score Quinones and move Brindle to third.
After a strikeout, Harry Slade walked to load the bases for Chris Barker. Barker was able to reach on a fielding error by the Catamount third baseman to score Brindle. Overholtzer then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Walker to tie the game.
Western Carolina took advantage of three Spartan errors in the bottom of the third to take a 5-3 lead. Heffley led off the inning by reaching on a fielding error by UNCG and Collias followed by reaching on another Spartan fielding error.
Tyler White tried to sacrifice the runners over, but his bunt went towards third base and UNCG tried to catch Heffley going to third. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the throw went in the foul territory in left field to allow Heffley to score and Collias and White to move to second and third. Collias went on to score later in the inning on a fielder's choice by de Graaf to put WCU ahead, 5-3.
UNCG got one of those runs back in the top of the fourth inning after Slade and Barker led off the inning with back-to-back walks. After Overholtzer advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt, Lloyd Enzor was hit by a pitch and Jayjack drew a walk to score Slade and make it a 5-4 game.
The Spartans exploded though in the top of the fifth inning with six runs, all with two outs, to take a 10-5 lead. After the first two batters were retired, Slade delivered a single up the middle and Barker followed with a walk. The two runners moved up a base on a wild pitch and Slade was able to tie the game by scoring on an infield single by Overholtzer.
Enzor followed with a walk to load the bases and Jayjack followed with his second bases-loaded walk to score Barker and give UNCG a 6-5 lead. Quinones then stepped to the plate and hit a triple to right field to clear the bases and put the Spartans ahead by four runs. Quinones followed by scoring on a wild pitch to make it 10-5.
de Graaf led off the bottom of the sixth for the Catamounts by striking out, but reached first on a wild pitch. Schultz then tripled to right center to score de Graaf from first. Collias followed with a single to score Schultz and WCU got one more run later in the inning on another Spartan error.
With WCU down to their final six outs and the Spartans holding on to a two-run lead, Tyler Kirkpatrick delivered a double to left center in the bottom of the eighth. Heffley followed with a towering shot down the left field line for his 10th home run of the season and tied the game at 10.
The Spartans and Catamounts will meet for the second game of the series on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Western Carolina 11, UNC Greensboro 10
UNC Greensboro...... 030 160 000 - 10 9 6 (18-24, 5-17)
Western Carolina.... 302 003 021 - 11 9 2 (26-14-1, 9-9-1)
Pitchers: UNC Greensboro - Blake Hassebrock; Zach Furl(6) and Ed Jayjack. Western Carolina - Taylor Sandefur; Kyle Stewart(3); Jeremy Sluder(4); Vance Chavis(5); Andrew Chilcoat(5); Brandon Johnson(8) and Ollie Goulder.
Win-Brandon Johnson(5-1) Loss-Zach Furl(2-1) T-4:07 A-375
HR WCU - Austin Schultz; Ross Heffley.
Weather: 70 and clear
Chavis faced 3 batters in the 5th.
Chilcoat faced 1 batter in the 8th.
- UNCG -