CULLOWHEE, N.C.—Western Carolina’s Aaron Attaway hit a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to drive in Luke Gragg and lift the Catamount baseball team to a 9-8 win over Samford in the first game of a three-game Southern Conference series Friday night at Hennon Stadium.
Samford plated five runs on three home runs in the top of the ninth inning to erase a five-run deficit and tie the game at 8-8. C.K. Irby and Christiaan Durdaller each hit a two-run homer, while Caleb Bryson hit a solo home run in the inning to knot the score.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Dykota Spiess walked and then moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Gragg then reached base on an infield hit, and Bradley Strong singled to load the bases. Spiess was then thrown out at home when Austin Neary reached base on a fielder’s choice. Attaway then singled to center field to drive in Gragg for the 9-8 WCU win.
“That was a heck of a finish,” Samford head coach Casey Dunn said. “I told our guys, sometimes the breaks just don’t go your way.”
Samford was led in the game by Durdaller, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Phillip Ervin went 2-for-4 with a home run, a triple and two RBI. Zeth Stone also had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Patrick McGavin (0-4) took the loss on the mound for Samford. McGavin pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up one run in taking the loss for the Bulldogs. Alex Milazzo, Charles Terry and Andres Gracia also saw time on the mound for Samford.
For Western Carolina, Julian Ridings went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Tyler White went 3-for-5 with three RBI. Preston Hatcher (5-2) pitched two-thirds of an inning giving up three runs on three hits to earn the win for the Catamounts.
Samford jumped on top first with two runs in the top of the first inning. Stone walked, Tommy Corbin was hit by a pitch and Irby walked to load the bases with no outs. Ervin then grounded out to third base to drive in Stone for the game’s first run. Durdaller then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing Corbin in to score for a 2-0 Samford lead.
Western Carolina scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to tie the score at 2-2. Attaway singled to center field to lead off the inning, and then moved to second base on a wild pitch. Attaway then moved to third base on a double by Ridings. White then grounded out to second base to drive in Attaway for WCU’s first run of the contest. Jacob Hoyle then singled to drive in Ridings to tie the score.
The Catamounts took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Gragg and Strong walked, and Attaway was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Ridings then hit a sacrifice fly to score Gragg to give WCU a 3-2 lead. White then singled to drive in Attaway and Strong for a 5-2 Catamount lead.
Western Carolina added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to push its lead to 7-2. Ridings homered to right-center field for the first run of the inning. White scored the inning’s final run when Gragg walked with the bases loaded for a five-run Western Carolina lead.
Samford came back with one run in the top of the sixth inning. Ervin hit his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot with one out, to cut the Catamounts’ lead to 7-3.
Western Carolina plated another run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Neary doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on a wild pitch to make the score 8-3.
With the loss, Samford drops to 19-16 overall and 8-8 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina improves to 20-16 overall and 10-6 in league play.
The teams will continue their series with a game Saturday at 1 p.m. (CT). The game can be heard locally on WVSU-FM 91.1, or worldwide on the internet at www.samford.edu/wvsu. Live stats will also be available through links on the baseball schedule page at www.samfordsports.com.