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  • Daniel Hooker

Late Four-Run Rally Leads Catamounts Past Presbyterian

Jack Spyke laced a run-scoring single through the left side of a drawn-in infield to plate the go-ahead run and Jordan Starkes delivered a sacrifice fly RBI for a needed insurance marker as Western Carolina returned home to Childress Field / Hennon Stadium to open a four-game homestand with a 7-6 victory over Presbyterian Tuesday night in the backend of a midweek nonconference home-and-home.

After leading by two early on the strength of a Zach Ketterman two-run home run, the Catamounts had to rally from a 5-3 deficit, tallying a pair of two-run innings in the seventh and eighth to pull in front 7-5 with three outs remaining.

Presbyterian put runners at the corners with nobody out to open the ninth inning, eventually scoring once on a sacrifice fly and again threatened with two aboard after a two-out error. But Coby Ingle and the WCU defense settled for the final force out to secure the win, snapping a two-game series slide against the Blue Hose.

Ketterman belted his ninth home run of the year with a three-run blast to left-center field in the bottom of the first inning as a part of reaching base three times, adding a pair of walks in a 1-for-2 showing. Pascanel Ferreras doubled three times in a 3-for-4, two-run showing offensively, reaching third base on his final double after a miscue in the PC outfield and scoring the go-ahead run on Spyke’s RBI single.

Cole Jones belted a solo home run to lead off a two-run seventh inning in a 1-for-3 effort with a sacrifice bunt with Starkes singling in a 1-for-3 effort with the eventual game-winning run scoring on his deep fly to center on the sacrifice. both James Hinson and Landen Morrison both reached twice – Hinson on a pair of walks and Morrison on a walk and an HBP.

With WCU leading 3-2 through three innings, Presbyterian used a three-run fourth including a two-run homer by Kyle Merkle that scraped the left-field wall for a 5-3 lead. Both teams went scoreless in the fourth and fifth before WCU started its march back. Jones led off the seventh with a solo homer to right with James Hinson reaching on a fielder’s choice before eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Butterworth to knot the game at five apiece, setting up the eighth-inning heroics.

Dylan Wheeler (3-1) scored the win, striking out two in an inning of one-hit, scoreless relief. Freshman starter Brandon Eldridge worked around a walk with two strikeouts, surrendering four runs on six hits over three innings. Cole Beverlin was among WCU’s most effective relievers, striking out two over two hitless, scoreless innings. Coby Ingle collected his second save of the season, allowing an inherited runner to score in the ninth with a strikeout in a hitless, scoreless frame.

For Presbyterian, reliever William Farrar (0-1) was saddled with the loss, tagged for two runs – one earned – on a hit with a walk allowed without recording an out. Starter Fenix DiGiacomo had a pair of strikeouts against two walks with reliever Mason McDaniel tossing four solid innings, scattering three hits and two runs allowed against a pair of strikeouts.

Brody Fahr stayed hot for Presbyterian, finishing 2-for-4 with Merkle likewise collecting a pair of hits including the two-run homer. Kyle Decker also hit a solo home run for the Blue Hose in the third inning, finishing 1-for-4.

Western Carolina (19-28) closes the home portion of its 2023 schedule this weekend, hosting The Citadel (21-23, 6-9 SoCon) in Cullowhee beginning Friday at 5 p.m. Saturday is “Whee Love Canton Day” at the ballpark with fans encouraged to arrive early ahead of the 2 p.m. start and anticipate heavy traffic on campus as the game coincides with WCU’s commencement exercises. Sunday is Senior Day with WCU honoring the senior members of its baseball squad, also welcoming youth to the game on little league day at the ballpark with the first pitch at 1 p.m.

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