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Eight-Game Road Stretch Continues Tuesday in Boiling Springs



Western Carolina baseball continues its stretch of eight-straight games away from home as it travels to Boiling Springs, N.C., on Tuesday evening to face the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs on Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium. The first pitch of what is now the front end of a nonconference home and home between the two regional rivals is scheduled for 6 p.m.

 

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live-streaming audio from the Catamount Sports Network and live stats through StatBroadcast available for free online through links at CatamountSports.com. The airtime of the CSN broadcast is set for 5:45 p.m.

 

WCU and Gardner-Webb were supposed to meet last Tuesday in Cullowhee in a game that was postponed by rain and ultimately rescheduled for May 7 at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

 

The Catamounts enter the week riding a three-game win streak after snapping a two-game slide by sweeping The Citadel Bulldogs in Charleston over the weekend. WCU outscored their conference rivals 28-7 including a 17-2 win in eight innings in Thursday’s series opener. As a team over the weekend, the Catamounts hit .302 (32-of-106) with 10 extra-base hits including seven doubles and three home runs. More impressive, though, was the job the WCU pitching staff did in limiting the Bulldogs to a .165 average against as The Citadel finished 14-for-85 with just one extra-base hit coming on a double.

 

In Charleston, Hayden Friese led the squad with a .417 batting average, finishing 5-for-12 with a double and four RBI, while Kyle Riesselmann likewise posted a team-high five hits in 13 trips, hitting a home run and a double while scoring five runs with four RBI. On the mound, Gavin Mortenson struck out eight in earning Thursday’s victory over a seven-inning start with relievers Dusty Revis and Dante Visconti collecting the other two wins. Sophomore LHP Ryan White and RHP Jonathan Todd both tallied saves as the Catamount pitching staff boasted a 2.42 collective ERA in the series sweep – WCU’s first over The Citadel since 2021.

 

The Catamounts enter the week with a .282 collective team batting average through 25 games including 97 extra-base hits, the third-most in the Southern Conference. WCU ranks third in the league with 56 doubles and 38 home runs. Western Carolina has scored 198 runs over 25 games, averaging 7.9 runs per game coming on 242 hits, just under 10 per contest. As a pitching staff, WCU is allowing around 7.1 runs on nine hits per game this season with an average of 7.44 strikeouts per game.

 

Junior transfer Trent Turner continues to rank among the SoCon leaders with a team-best 40 base hits, two off the league-leading pace. Turner is also tied for third with nine doubles. Senior Nate Stocum hit his 13th home run over the weekend at Riley Park in Charleston, matching his single-season career-best of 13 all of last season. The Raleigh, N.C., product currently ranks second in the SoCon for round-trippers with his baker’s dozen ranking him tied for 13th with five others in the NCAA rankings. Friese has moved into 12th in the conference in overall batting average at .380, tops on the Catamount roster.

 

Defensively, the Catamounts pulled away from second-place The Citadel with four double-plays flipped over the weekend giving the Purple & Gold a SoCon-leading 27 this season – tied for the 13th most in the NCAA.

 

Gardner-Webb (9-17) – which wraps up a seven-game homestand on Tuesday where it has won eight of its nine seasonal games this year – snapped a four-game seasonal slide with a seven-inning, 11-1 victory over Presbyterian in Big South play on Saturday afternoon. The Runnin’ Bulldogs scored their 11 runs on 11 base hits including four for extra-bases with a pair of home runs. The 11 base knocks tied a team-high for the Red & Black as Gardner-Webb has posted double-digit hits nine times.

 

Gardner-Webb, which has losses in eight of its last 11 games on the year coming on the heels of a four-game win streak, enters the week batting .255 collectively as a team with 213 hits including 66 for extra bases – 36 doubles, three triples, and 27 home runs. The team averages 4.7 runs on 8.2 hits per game while surrendering an average of 7.3 runs on just over eight hits per contest.

 

Two Runnin’ Bulldogs regulars are batting over .300 on the season led by Alec Burns (27-of-82) at a team-leading .329 with 10 extra-base hits – four doubles and six home runs. Humberto Torres is batting .317 with seven extra-base hits and Tommy Tavarez leads the squad with 14 extra-base knocks including seven doubles and seven homers with a team-best 17 RBI. As a team, Gardner-Webb has turned 21 double plays while fielding at a .962 clip.

 

The two squads have one common opponent to date – USC Upstate. The Catamounts fell at the Big South preseason favorite, 16-9, back on Feb. 21, while Gardner-Webb was swept by the Spartans in a three-game series by a combined tally of 32-to-7 with losses of 4-0, 8-5, and 20-2.

 

The Runnin' Bulldogs were picked second in the Big South Conference's preseason poll just behind the favorite USC Upstate. Infielder Alec Burns was a lone preseason All-Big South selection as voted on by the league's coaches for the first time in conference history.

 

WCU and Gardner-Webb meet for the 32nd time on the baseball diamond on Tuesday with the Catamounts leading the series 18-12-1 including a 9-6 mark in games played in Boiling Springs. After WCU won four straight, the Runnin' Bulldogs have won the last three meetings in the head-to-head series including the last two at Bill Masers Field at John Henry Moss Stadium. GWU looks to match its series-long win streak of four (2016-19).

 

Following Tuesday’s road trip in-state, the Catamounts travel to beautiful Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio, for a three-game nonconference series against the Akron Zips. The series opens at 6:05 p.m. on Friday (April 5) with the first pitch on Saturday (April 6) set for 4:05 p.m., before concluding Sunday (April 6) at 1:05 p.m.

 

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