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  • Daniel Hooker

Miscues Costly as Baseball Drops Sunday Finale to Georgia State



An opportunistic Georgia State squad scored in bunches on Sunday afternoon as the Panthers scored runs in all but three innings to complete the three-game nonconference series sweep of Western Carolina with a 13-5 win at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.

 

The Panthers (5-6) capitalized on seven walks and a pair of WCU errors as five of the free passes and both miscues extended innings and resulted in runs in the finale.

 

Western Carolina’s four hits were scattered between four batters with Nate Stocum (1-for-3) and Cameron Murray (1-for-1) both belting two-run home runs to highlight the Catamount offense. Jack Spyke reached base twice with a double and a walk in a 1-for-3 effort with Kyle Riesselmann collecting an RBI single and adding an HBP to reach twice in starting in centerfield.

 

Will Patota finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and five RBI after entering as a defensive substitution to lead the Panthers with Ryan Dyal (1-for-3) reaching twice including a three-run home run. Dylan Strickland reached three times with a pair of singles and a walk, also producing a run with an eighth-inning groundout.

 

After a scoreless first, Georgia State used a pair of two-out singles to plate the game’s first run as the Panthers cashed in Luke Boynton’s lead-off walk with a run-scoring single by Taylor Shultz who finished 2-for-5.

 

The Panthers then broke it open in the top of the third taking advantage of a dropped fly ball that would have been the third out of the frame and would have stranded a runner. Instead, the miscue allowed a runner to score to push the margin to two. Then, two batters later Dyal struck with a three-run home run to cap the four-run frame.

 

Leading 6-0, WCU put together its best inning of the day in the three-run fourth. Zach Ketterman drew a lead-off walk as part of five-straight Catamounts reaching. Stocum blasted his team-best fourth homer of the season to score two. Spyke followed with a double before Cole Jones reached on a walk to put two aboard when Riesselmann – who started his playing career at Georgia State – dropped a run-scoring single into right-center to cut the Panther advantage down to three, 6-3 through three.

 

The rally was short-lived, though, as Georgia State answered with a four-spot in the top of the fifth, keyed by Patota’s three-run double to lead 10-3 through five innings. Patota added a two-run single in the seventh with Dylan Strickland capping the scoring for the visitors in the eighth with an RBI groundout.

 

Murray provided some late fireworks for the Catamounts as he belted a pinch-hit, two-run home run over the wall in left for WCU’s final runs. The round-tripper was the first in the three-year career of the catcher out of Fredericksburg, Va.

 

Catamount starter Spenser Hamblen (1-2) took the loss after allowing five runs – only one of which was earned – on eight hits with four strikeouts against a walk. Hamblen was the first of seven pitchers used by WCU in the series finale with Cole Beverlin striking out three over two relief innings with both Shane Huntsberger and Clay Cox recording punchouts, two by the latter.

 

Tyler Roche (2-1) scattered three hits over a six-inning start, limiting the Catamounts to three earned runs. The Bronx, N.Y., product worked around three walks with six strikeouts. Three Panther relievers combined to toss the final three innings of one-hit relief with two runs scoring against Quin McManmon with Keegan Rich striking out two in the backend of the rotation.

 

Western Carolina (4-7) hits the road for its next five games including one in the midweek before four next weekend in tournament action. The Catamounts visit instate foe Charlotte on Tuesday, March 5, before heading to Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C., for four against Western Michigan, two against Michigan State, and a finale against VCU.

 

Tuesday’s game against the 49ers will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com. Each game at Fluor Field – home of the Boston Red Sox affiliate, the Greenville Drive – will be broadcast on the Drive’s YouTube channel.

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