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Catamounts Host the Blue Hose at High Noon on Tuesday




Daniel Hooker

WCU Athletics


Riding a wave of momentum from its three-game series sweep over conference foe Mercer that was punctuated with a walk-off win on Senior Day, Western Carolina returns to the friendly confines of Childress Field / Hennon Stadium on Tuesday to conclude the home portion of its 2024 regular-season schedule. The Catamounts host the Presbyterian Blue Hose in the backend of a nonconference home-and-home with the first pitch advanced to Noon.

 

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com.

 

About Western Carolina (26-23 ):

The Catamounts emphatically halted a five-game slide that included three losses at then-No. 13 Wake Forest by sweeping Mercer in Cullowhee last weekend, outscoring the Bears 36-to-19. WCU has guaranteed itself a winning record at home this season for a second-straight year.

 

Three Catamount regulars continue to hold batting averages over the .300 mark – with another two just below the benchmark. Zach Ketterman leads the team with a .352 average as his tear over the second half of the season continues, collecting nine doubles, two triples, and 12 home runs. Nate Stocum (.338) ranks third in the league with a career-best 19 home runs and is 10th with a team-best 53 RBI. He enters the final week of the regular season with 40 career home runs. Mason Holton (.320) is the third Catamount above the .300 mark, adding 19 extra-base hits with 13 doubles and six home runs including Sunday’s game-winner.

 

Hayden Friese (.298) and Trent Turner (.297) both rank just below the .300 mark. Turner is second on the squad with 63 hits. With 20 of his 26 seasonal hits going for extra bases, Drew Needham (.277) ranks third in the SoCon with a .757 slugging percentage and fourth in OPS (on-base + slugging) at 1.199.

 

WCU’s Active Hitting Streaks:

Kyle Riesselmann – 5 games

Nate Stocum – 4 games

Trent Turner – 4 games

Four players tied – 3 games

(Harbison, Holton, Ketterman, Mowery)

 

WCU’s Active Reached Base Safely Streak:

Mason Holton – 11 games

Kyle Riesselmann – 6 games

Drew Needham – 6 games

Nate Stocum – 4 games

Hayden Friese – 4 games

Trent Turner – 4 games

Three players tied – 3 games

(Harbison, Ketterman, Mowery)

 

Oh, What A Week:

Western Carolina batted a sizzling .340 (48-of-141) collectively as a team last week in four games with 15 extra-base hits including 11 home runs and four doubles. The Catamounts averaged 10.5 runs on 12 runs per game last week.

 

Four individuals batted over the .400 threshold last week. Nate Stocum led the team with a .474 (9-for-19) average with seven singles and two home runs. Moved from the lead-off spot to No. 9 in the lineup, Kyle Riesselmann rebounded by hitting .444 (8-of-18) with seven singles and a double to raise his seasonal average to .287, while one of Sunday’s heroes Mason Holton batted .417 (5-for-12) with three extra-base hits with a double and two home runs.

 

For senior Drew Needham, it was about quality not quantity in batting .400 on the week – 4-for-10, though each hit left the ball yard with four home runs to boast a 1.600 slugging percentage. The Liberty, N.C., product collected 11 of WCU’s 41 RBI on the week. Additionally, Needham drew nine freebies with eight walks and an HBP, matching Holton with a team-best .650 on-base percentage.

 

WCU’s pitching staff struck out 31 batters over the weekend with Gavin Mortenson fanning six in his six-inning winning effort and Dante Visconti striking out five in his six-inning performance. Dusty Revis picked up his first save out of the WCU bullpen, as both he and Cole Beverlin made a team-best three appearances apiece.

 

MISC. NOTES:

  • WCU’s three wins over the weekend were WCU’s first victories in May (3-5);

  • The Catamounts are 20-1 this year when leading after both six and seven innings … WCU is 20-0 when carrying a lead into the ninth inning … Conversely, WCU is 4-22 when trailing after six, 2-20 when trailing after seven, and has just one victory in 22 attempts when trailing heading into the ninth;

 

About the Presbyterian Blue Hose (26-25):

Since sweeping Charleston Southern to open the month of May, the Blue Hose have dropped three of their last four overall. PC is amidst its “Southern Conference portion” of its schedule as WCU represents the third SoCon opponent for the fifth straight game against teams from the rival conference. The Blue Hose are 1-3 with a 19-2 home loss in seven innings to Wofford and dropping 2-of-3 to The Citadel.

 

In the Big South Conference, just the top four in the final standings earn postseason tournament berths. Presbyterian is currently tied with High Point for the regular-season lead at 15-6 overall heading into the final conference series later this week.

 

Presbyterian is hitting .257 collectively as a team – eighth in the nine-team Big South – but boasts the league’s best team ERA at 5.53 with 476 combined strikeouts over 51 games. The Blue Hose are averaging 6.5 runs on 8.2 hits per game while limiting teams to 6.4 runs on 9.3 hits per contest.

 

Three Blue Hose batters are hitting above the .300 threshold entering the week, paced by Big South Conference leader Joel Dragoo with a .408 average (73-of-179) that includes the second-most doubles in that league with 18 and fourth-most home runs with 16. His 58 RBI are the third-most in the Big South and he has scored the sixth-most runs with 53. Dragoo is flanked by Brody Fahr (.332, 12 doubles) and Jackson Hugus (.301) for the top averages.

 

Projected Pitching Match-up:

PRESBY: Soph. LHP #40 Mason McDaniel (6 app., 0 GS – 0-0, 8.31 ERA, 8.2 IP, 6 K, 3 BB)

WCU: Sr. LHP #9 Kyle Riesselmann (6 app., 2 GS – 1-1, 6.46 ERA, 15.1 IP, 11 K, 1 BB)

 

A starting pitcher much of last season where he made 14 appearances with 13 starts on the mound, Riesselmann will make his seventh appearance and third start of this season on Tuesday. After tossing 53.0 innings last year, the Tyrone, Ga., product has 15.1 innings of work having spent the bulk of the year patrolling the outfield.

 

Last Time We Met:

Sparked by the bottom third of its lineup, Western Carolina used a pair of four-run innings to upend the Presbyterian Blue Hose 9-5 in midweek nonconference action back on April 9. Zack Ketterman finished 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI batting out of the seven-spot in the lineup with Mason Holton (2-for-5) and Kyle Harbison in the nine-hole matching Ketterman with a trio of runs driven in. The bottom third of the lineup accounted for six of WCU’s 10 hits. Weekend heroes Nate Stocum and Drew Needham both added doubles with Trent Turner reaching three times on walks.  For Presbyterian, Jake Randolph (2-for-4) homered as part of two, two-hit efforts to lead the Blue Hose with Joel Dragoo also collecting a pair of hits with one coming on a double.

 

Scheduled for the short start, Dante Visconti was awarded the win after fanning five over five innings with Kyle Riesselmann striking out two over two innings as one of eight relievers used to finish off the road victory.

 

Western Carolina vs. Presbyterian – All-Time Series:

The Catamounts and Blue Hose have met 12 times previously on the baseball diamond with WCU leading the series, 8-4. Ten of the 12 meetings have come since PC made the move to the NCAA Division I ranks in 2008. Five of WCU's seven series wins have come at home (5-2) while carrying a 3-2 mark in Clinton, S.C. The two teams have split the previous four meetings ahead of the April meeting this season – both teams won on the road in 2022 and last year, the home squads prevailed.

 

On Deck for Western Carolina:

Following Tuesday's home finale, WCU wraps up the conference season slate with a three-game road trip to Lexington, Va., to face the VMI Keydets (25-26, 6-12 SoCon) at Gray-Minor Stadium in a series that opens on Thursday (May 16) at 6 p.m. Each game is slated to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio as well as video streaming through ESPN+ (paid subscription required) and live stats through StatBroadcast linked online at CatamountSports.com 

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