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  • Daniel Hooker

Catamounts Fall to Third-Ranked Volunteers Tuesday

Western Carolina pushed across four runs in the top of the fourth inning to grab a one-run lead over the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday night in nonconference action. However, the nation’s top offensive unit scored nine unanswered runs to remain unbeaten in the midweek this season, downing the Catamounts 12-4 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.


WCU’s potent offense was limited to three base hits including just one during its four-run top of the fourth inning. Nate Stocum singled twice in a 2-for-3 effort to extend his active hitting streak to 13 straight, reaching a third time on one of three walks drawn by Catamount hitters. Kyle Riesselmann singled to open the fourth inning, finishing 1-for-4 in the loss.


In addition to Stocum, Zach Ketterman and pinch-hitter Drew Needham both reached on walks.


Trailing 3-0 through three complete after a one-run second inning and two in the third coming on the first of four home runs hit by the Vols, Western Carolina responded in the top of the fourth inning.


Riesselmann reached on an infield single for the first Catamount hit of the day with Ketterman and Stocum drawing consecutive free passes to load the bases. Trent Turner was then plunked by a 0-2 pitch to plate the squad’s first run. Hayden Friese then pushed across a second marker on a right-side groundout to first before Jack Spyke squeezed home the game-tying run with a sacrifice bunt to the left side.


A Tennessee error allowed Tafton Hensley to reach base with Turner scampering home with the go-ahead marker to cap the rally and give the Catamounts the 4-3 lead. WCU then retired the Vols in order in the home half to carry that advantage into the fifth inning.


However, Tennessee exploded for six runs in the home half of the fifth inning, homering twice to take a 9-4 lead after five. After WCU held the home squad scoreless between the sixth and seventh innings, the Vols tacked on a three-run homer to provide the final tally at 12-4.


Tennessee (34-7) had three players post multi-hit games with Billy Amick homering twice in a 3-for-5 effort, driving in seven runs. Blake Burke (2-for-4) and Reese Chapman (2-for-3) finished with multiple hits. Kavares Tears (1-for-3) and Colby Backus (1-for-4) also homered with Tears plating three and Backus with a solo shot.


Catamount starter Spenser Hamblen (2-4) took the loss for the Catamounts, surrendering seven runs on six hits with a pair of strikeouts against two walks over four innings. Seven relievers combined to toss the final four frames with Ryan White striking out two and Cannon Pickell fanning the side against a single in the sixth inning. Paddy McGonigal struck out two of the four batters he faced in the eighth inning out of the WCU bullpen.


Tennessee starter Dylan Loy gave up three runs on just one hit over three innings but did not factor in the decision. Andrew Behnke (2-0), the second Volunteer pitcher, was credited with the win after two scoreless innings of one-hit relief, striking out three as UT posted 10 combined strikeouts.


Western Carolina (21-17, 6-6 SoCon) heads to the Palmetto State this weekend in Southern Conference play to face the Wofford Terriers (27-11, 7-4 SoCon). The three-game league set gets underway at Russell C. King Field on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and continues Saturday at 2 p.m. before concluding Sunday at 1 p.m. Each game is slated to be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live stats available online at

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