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  • Daniel Hooker

Riesselmann’s Fifth-Inning Homer Sparks Catamounts Past GWU, 6-4

Tied at two through four complete, Kyle Riesselmann sparked a four-run fifth inning with a two-run home run to right field as Western Carolina held off the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs for a 6-4 victory Tuesday evening on Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium.


Riesselmann was one of two Catamounts with multi-hit games as Jack Spyke matched his season high with three hits including a double in a 3-for-5 effort, adding an RBI. Riesselmann finished 2-for-5 with two runs driven in on his fourth-inning homer.


WCU’s five remaining base knocks were scattered between five different players with Drew Needham (1-for-2) doubling and Hayden Friese (1-for-4) reaching twice with a walk and an RBI single. Trent Turner likewise reached twice with a single and a walk while Nate Stocum reached three times with a pair of walks and a first-inning single.


Catcher Humberto Torres (2-for-3) led the Runnin’ Bulldogs with a pair of hits including a bloop triple to right field that was lost in the lights allowing him to scamper three-quarters of the way around the base paths. GWU saw three players – Nick Capozzi, Ryan Kennell, and Max Smyley – each draw three walks apiece.


Turner scored WCU’s first run after reaching on a fielder’s choice in the top of the third inning. He promptly stole second before taking third on a wild pitch and was ultimately driven in by Spyke for the 1-0 lead. The Catamounts found a second marker in the top of the fourth inning coming without recording any base hits. Friese drew a lead-off walk before swiping second and third, scoring on an errant throw to the bag at third base.


A pair of bases-loaded walks allowed Gardner-Webb (9-18) to climb right back in the game in the home half of the fourth, knotting the game at two before reliever Ryan White was able to get a strikeout to leave the bases full of Runnin’ Bulldogs.


In the top of the fifth inning, Kyle Harbison drew a lead-off walk before Riesselman hammered a line-drive shot over the wall in right for the two-run blast as WCU reclaimed the lead. Friese laced a run-scoring single through the left side before pinch-hitter James Hinson drew an RBI HBP to cap scoring at four runs and give WCU the 6-2 lead.


Gardner-Webb pushed across solo markers in the sixth on a Peter Capobianco sacrifice fly before consecutive ninth-inning singles led to a fourth run for the home squad before the Catamounts thwarted the rally and ended the game up two.


Ten different pitchers toed the rubber for the Catamounts in securing the midweek road victory with none tossing more than two innings. Starter Dusty Revis allowed just three base runners with a single, a walk, and a hit batter in tossing two scoreless innings. White (3-1), a sophomore from Randleman, N.C., scored the victory after an inning and a third of one-hit, scoreless relief with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Dylan Wheeler and Dante Visconti also posted two Ks apiece in an inning of work before Jonathan Todd picked up the save, striking out the side with a run on two hits allowed in the bottom of the ninth inning.


All told the Catamount pitchers issued 12 walks against the 11 combined strikeouts. But, of the dozen walks allowed, only two scored for Gardner-Webb as the Runnin’ Bulldogs stranded 12 runners on base.


GWU reliever Creighton Hansen (0-1) was tagged with the loss, allowing four runs – only three of which were earned – on just one hit with three walks and a strikeout. Starter Bryan Pazos struck out two over 2.2 innings, scattering four hits with just one run allowed. CJ Czerwinski struck out four over two innings in helping keep the home squad close.


Western Carolina (15-11) remains on the road for a trio of neutral-field contests against the Akron Zips this weekend at beautiful Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. The three-game nonconference set opens on Friday (April 5) with a 6:05 p.m. first pitch before continuing Saturday evening with a 4:05 p.m. start. The series concludes Sunday (April 7) at 1:05 p.m.


The Catamounts and Zips have met five times previously on the baseball diamond with WCU holding a narrow 3-2 series lead. The first meeting came back in 2011 in Forest City, N.C., with a 9-8 WCU victory. Last season, the Catamounts and Zips evenly split a four-game set in Cullowhee.

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