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Catamounts Head to Prasco Park to Face Akron




Cullowhee, N.C. – Winners of four-straight games and boasting a five-game road winning streak, Western Carolina baseball continues its current eight-game swing away from Childress Field / Hennon Stadium as it faces the Akron Zips in a trio of neutral field contests at the beautiful Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. Though the games are being played in Ohio, WCU is the designated home team for the three-game series.

 

The three-game set opens Friday with an amended 4:05 p.m. start with a matching first pitch time on Saturday afternoon. Friday’s game was bumped up earlier based on the forecasted temperatures in Ohio. The series concludes Sunday with a 1:05 pm start time. Each game will be streamed live through Chatterbox Sports with live stats also available through dedicated links online at CatamountSports.com.

 

About Western Carolina:

Western Carolina (15-11) claimed its fourth-straight seasonal victory on Tuesday with the 6-4 road win over Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C. Kyle Riesselmann – currently amidst a 10-game hitting streak that includes five multi-hit games – hit his third home run in his last five games with a two-run shot in the top of the fifth inning to spark a four-run frame as the Catamounts broke a 2-2 tie and then held on for the victory. WCU outhit the Runnin’ Bulldogs 10-to-6, though GWU drew an opponent-high tying 12 walks but stranded a dozen on base.

 

Riesselmann has raised his seasonal batting average by 61 points during his current streak, ranking as one of three Catamount regulars with a plus-.300 batting average. Hayden Friese is hitting a team-best .370 (20-of-54) with six extra-base hits with Trent Turner leading WCU – and ranking ninth in the SoCon – with a team-best 41 base hits as part of a .350 average. Turner, who is amidst a five-game hit streak, has a team-leading nine doubles that rank tied for sixth in the league, adding five home runs and a total of 27 RBI.

 

Utility player Jack Spyke is just below the .300 threshold at .297 with nine extra-base hits. Including hits in seven straight, Spyke has reached base safely in 10 consecutive games. Drew Needham has reached base safely in a team-long 13 straight games entering the Prasco weekend. Outfield slugger Nate Stocum is batting .292 with 28 base hits including 19 for extra bases with 13 home runs, second in the SoCon. His 33 seasonal RBI rank him tied for fifth in the conference ledgers entering the weekend.

 

Western Carolina is batting .282 collectively as a team with 204 runs on 252 hits – averaging 7.8 runs on 9.7 hits per game. The Catamounts have 100 extra-base knocks this year including 58 doubles (3rd in SoCon), three triples, and 39 home runs (3rd in SoCon). The pitching staff has lowered its team ERA to 5.80 over 26 games with 197 strikeouts including 50 K’s looking. WCU has allowed 182 runs on 231 hits this season, or 7.0 runs coming on 8.9 hits per contest.

 

About the Akron Zips:

Akron (5-22) enters the weekend mired in an eight-game losing skid after falling to Youngstown State 4-3 on Wednesday night at home. Three of the eight losses have been by two or fewer runs with four of the defeats coming away from home. The Zips own neutral field wins over Illinois and Fordham on the year.

 

As a team, Akron is batting .217 (187-of-861) with 53 extra-base hits including 38 doubles, five triples, and 10 home runs divided between seven different players. The Zips are averaging 4.3 runs on 6.9 hits per game. Opponents are batting .318 against Akron entering the weekend with 297 hits including 91 for extra bases – 50 doubles, 10 triples, and 31 RBI. The opposition is averaging 8.2 runs coming on 11 hits per game for the Zips.

 

Max Bowman leads Akron’s regulars with a .287 batting average, pacing the team with 27 base hits including nine for extra-bases with a team-best 16 RBI. Bowman had a 25-game reached base safely streak halted in the mid-week against Youngstown State. He’s joined with double-digit RBI by Evan Bottone (.262, 11 RBI) – who has reached base safely in 19 straight games – and Fisher Pyatt (.169, 11 RBI). Nicky Sackett has a 12-game reached base safely streak.

 

Coming off of a 21-34 season a year ago, Akron was picked 11th in the 11-team Mid-American Conference (MAC) preseason poll under the direction of first-year head coach Bryan Faulds. The Zips represent the second MAC school on the WCU schedule this season. The other was Western Michigan, who the Catamounts defeated 18-6 in seven innings in the final game of Michigan State’s First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. To date, the Catamounts and Zips have just one common foe – The Citadel. Akron was swept in three games by the Bulldogs in the Lowcountry back in late February while WCU won all three league games over the Cadets last weekend in Charleston.

 

WCU vs. Akron – Projected Pitching Matchups:

Western Carolina is expected to roll with the same rotation it did a weekend ago in the sweep of The Citadel with senior RHP Gavin Mortenson (1-1, 3.28 ERA) and freshman RHP Davis Budd (0-0, 4.91 ERA) getting the ball first on the weekend. WCU has yet to name a Sunday starter. Mortenson tossed a season-long 7.0 innings with a season-best eight strikeouts in last Thursday’s 17-2 win in eight innings over the Bulldogs, while Budd went a season-long 4.0 innings with a career-best five strikeouts in a no-decision as WCU won 5-3.

 

Akron likewise has not named a Sunday starter with sophomore RHP Jared Schaeffer (0-4, 5.81 ERA) and senior RHP Spencer Atkins (0-4, 6.89 ERA) slated to go on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Atkins leads the Akron pitching staff with 28 strikeouts over 31.1 innings with Schaeffer fanning 21 against just nine walks. Reliever Yassir Kahook (1-1, 8.27 ERA) has made a team-high 12 appearances out of the bullpen to date.

 

Series History & More:

Western Carolina and Akron have met just five times previously on the baseball diamond dating back to 2011 with a neutral field, 9-8 victory for the Catamounts at McNair Field in Forest City, N.C. The two squads evenly split four meetings in Cullowhee a season ago with the Zips bookending the weekend with a two-run (14-12) and a one-run (3-2) victory. WCU swept a Saturday doubleheader, 11-6 and 6-1 in seven innings. All told, WCU leads the series 3-2 with this weekend’s games the first played outside of North Carolina.

 

The Catamounts have faced seven of the 11 current members of the MAC posting a 23-16 all-time overall record. Kent State represents WCU’s most-played MAC opponent with 13 games (5-8), followed by Miami (OH)(5-2) and Ball State (3-4) at seven games.

 

Last Time We Met – 2023 Leaders:

WCU and Akron split the four-game series last year in Cullowhee 2-2. Akron won 14-12 on Friday and 3-2 on Sunday, while WCU took Saturday’s doubleheader 6-1 in seven innings and 11-6. Drew Needham (5-for-14, .357) doubled and plated three RBI to rank among WCU’s leaders with Zach Ketterman doubling twice in a 3-for-11 (.272) effort. Kyle Riesselmann (4-for-15) homered as a part of driving in four runs over the four games with Kyle Harbison finishing 3-for-6 with a walk and an RBI.

 

On the mound, Gavin Mortenson made a pair of relief appearances with 3.1 innings of work, striking out four with three runs on three hits allowed. Jonathan Todd started the opener, tossing 5.0 innings with four strikeouts against six hits and a walk. Paddy McGonigal (1.0 IP), Carson Lowder (0.1 IP), and Ryan White (0.1 IP) also made weekend appearances among the returners.

 

Akron’s Saturday starter worked 4.1 innings against WCU in a starting role a season ago, working around three walks with a pair of strikeouts and four runs allowed on four hits in suffering the loss in the seven-inning game. Yassir Kahook earned the win in relief on Sunday with a hitless, scoreless relief inning. Returners Emmett Gillies made two appearances with 1.1 relief innings, striking out and walking two, while Sean Perkins threw 1.2 innings and allowed three runs on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

 

Among the returning position players, the Zips were led by Ian Pennington who had a strong series finale, finishing the four games  6-for-15 (.400) with two doubles, a home run, and six RBI. Sam Seeker also homered with a pair of RBI on the weekend while Michael Sprockett walked three times. Jack Poist tallied a trio of hits in a 3-for-11 effort with a double.

 

About Prasco and Prasco Park:

Located on the campus of Prasco Laboratories, Prasco Park is in Mason, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. A premier amateur baseball destination, the park opened in 2008 and currently serves as the host of the Big East baseball tournament each year. A faith-based company, Prasco is a leader in Authorized Generic (AG) pharmaceuticals.

 

On Deck for the Catamounts:

Following WCU’s trip to the Buckeye State, the Catamounts conclude their eight-game road swing by visiting Presbyterian next Tuesday, April 9, with a 6 p.m. start in Clinton, S.C. The Catamounts then play their next seven games at home including conference series against both UNCG (April 12-14) and Samford (April 19-21).

 

Keep track of everything related to WCU Athletics and Catamount baseball including any game day schedule changes through our social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/CatamountSports), Twitter (@Catamounts, @CatamountBSB), and Instagram (wcu_catamounts, catamountbsb).



2024 Catamount Baseball – Western Carolina vs. Akron – Prasco Park (Mason, Ohio) Friday, April 5 |  4:05 p.m.  |  Prasco Park  |  Coverage: ChatterBoxSports Stream  |  LiveStats

Akron: RHP Jared Schaeffer (6 app., 6 GS – 0-4, 5.81 ERA, 31.0 IP, 21 K, 9 BB)

WCU: RHP Gavin Mortenson (10 app. 4 GS – 1-1, 3.28 ERA, 24.2 IP, 28 K, 16 BB)

 

Saturday, April 6 | 4:05 p.m. |  Prasco Park  |  Coverage: ChatterBoxSports Stream | LiveStats

Akron: RHP Spencer Atkins (7 app., 7 GS – 0-4, 6.89 ERA, 31.1 IP, 28 K, 15 BB)

WCU: RHP Davis Budd (7 app., 2 GS – 0-0, 4.91 ERA, 14.2 IP, 16 K, 8 BB)

Saturday, March 30  |  1:05 p.m.  |  Prasco Park  |  Coverage: ChatterBoxSports Stream | LiveStats

Akron: TBA

WCU: TBA

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