Western Carolina outlasted Georgia 12-7 Tuesday at Foley Field in a game that lasted three hours and 40 minutes not counting a rain delay of more than an hour.
Redshirt freshman David Gonzalez was given the nod as the Bulldog (5-7) starter, making his third appearance of the season. Gonzalez walked Western Carolina’s (7-6) Aaron Attaway to lead off the game and then surrendered a single into centerfield to Cody Jones. After Jones reached base, the skies opened up and gave way to a rain delay that lasted one hour and 22 minutes before the teams returned to play. The rain delay was the end of Gonzalez’s day, as Mike Mancuso took the mound once action resumed.
The Catamounts (7-6) came out hot after the rain delay, pushing across five runs on six hits in the top of the first. With runners already on first and second, Tyler White provided a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners up one base. In the next at bat, Jacob Hoyle lined one right back up the middle that hit off of Mancuso’s shoe and fell for an infield single, scoring Attaway from third. Hoyle was followed by Austin Neary, who boomed a double off of the center field wall that scored Jones and sent Hoyle to third. The Catamounts tacked on four more runs on a sacrifice fly from Bradley Strong and RBI hits from Bryant Noteboom and Danny Bermudez.
Georgia tacked on a run of their own in the bottom of the first thanks to a sacrifice fly by Hunter Cole that made the score 5-1. Curt Powell drove a one out double into the gap in left center field, and then advanced to third on a pass ball prior to scoring on Cole’s sacrifice.
The Bulldogs had another opportunity to cut into the Catamount’s lead in the bottom of the second inning as the first two batters reached base on a walk and a single. Morgan Bunting then beat out a potential 4-6-3 double play to put the Bulldogs in position to score with runners on the corners and no outs. Western Carolina starter Taylor Sandefur then walked DJ Smith to load the bases with just one out. Sandefur was able to escape without any harm, however, forcing both Nelson Ward and Powell to pop out in order to end the inning.
Georgia again posed a threat to Western Carolina’s lead in the bottom of the fourth, this time they were able to capitalize. Jared Walsh, who posted a career-high four-hit game, led off the inning with a double off the wall in left field. Walsh was followed by pinch hitter J.T. Phillips who drew a walk from Hunter Brister. After Smith advanced Walsh and Phillips on a sacrifice bunt, Ward drove in Walsh on a bloop single into centerfield that cut the Catamount’s lead to 5-2 after four.
Western Carolina responded quickly with two runs in the fifth as they increased their lead to 7-2, thanks to an RBI double from Noteboom and a two out RBI single from Attaway.
Georgia cut into the Catamount’s lead again in the bottom of the sixth; scoring three runs after loading the bases with no outs. Walsh led off the inning with his third hit of the game and later scored on a fielder’s choice ground out by Ward. Powell then drove in the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to right field. The Bulldog’s 3-4-5 hitters then drew three consecutive two out walks to load the bases, and then bring in another run to make it a 7-5 game through six.
Yet again, Western Carolina wasted no time in answering Georgia’s attempted comeback, scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning. After a throwing error by Powell kept the inning a live and allowed for another run to score, Jarrett Brown was brought into finish the inning. However, he surrendered a two out walk and then a three run homer to Cody Jones that put the Catamounts ahead 12-5. WCU employed seven pitchers on the night with Hunter Brister (1-0) picking up a win. Georgia used eight pitchers.
The Bulldogs put forth a valiant effort at a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, tacking on two additional runs on a two out double by pinch hitter Jess Posey, but ultimately fell short by the final tally of 12-7.
“You can’t expect to win when you give up a couple of five-spots,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We have to execute our pitches better in key situations. Bottom line, we have to figure out our pitching for these midweek games. We had our chances at the plate too. We drew a lot of walks but didn’t get enough key hits for any big innings. ”
Georgia is currently in the midst of a nine-game home stand that will pick back up Friday night as they take on Liberty (9-2) in the first of a three game series
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