RALEIGH, N.C. – Western Carolina scored in bunches over the first four frames and then held off the 20th-ranked Wolfpack as the Catamounts picked up the upset road win over NC State, 9-8, in a rare Monday afternoon nonconference meeting at Doak Field.
WCU jumped out to a 9-4 lead, scoring two in the first inning, four in the third and three in the fourth innings. The Wolfpack closed to within a run in the home half of the eighth. However, the Catamounts leaned on ace weekend starter Bryan Sammons, who closed the final inning and a third in his first relief appearance since his sophomore season to secure the victory – WCU’s second in five games against nationally ranked opponents this year.
Four Catamounts posted multi-hit games, including all three Robinson brothers, who each finished 2-for-5 in the win. Luke Robinson doubled and led the squad with three RBIs, while Caleb Robinson plated a pair, also collecting a two-base knock in the win. Andrew Robinson, who earned his first career start, recorded his first multiple-hit game with two singles in the leadoff spot, while junior Brett Pope also finished 2-for-5.
Junior transfer Cameron Blaquiere belted his first home run in the Purple & Gold, a two-run shot as a part of the four-run third, while Raleigh native Matthew Koehler reached three times, drawing a pair of walks to accompany a 1-for-3 outing, scoring twice.
Catamount starter Brendan Nail (1-2) battled through six innings to pick up his first victory of the season, surrendering five runs on eight hits. On the heels of a career-best 12 strikeout performance, the Greensboro, N.C., native countered three walks with a trio of punch outs. Relievers Jacob Breakfield and Korey Anderson combined to toss an inning and two-thirds before handing it over to Sammons, who secured his third career save – and his first since his freshman season – striking out two in an inning and a third.
Three consecutive singles by Pope, Bryson Bowman and Matt Smith drove in the game’s first run as a double-steal by Pope and Bowman set the table for Smith. The Fredericktown, Ohio, native collected the RBI on an infield base knock for the early lead. A second run crossed in the top of the opening frame on the first of two Wolfpack errors.
Single runs in the bottom of the first and second innings by NC State tied the game at 2 before WCU again pulled ahead in the third. With Smith and Koehler aboard with a walk and a double, respectively, Caleb Robinson singled down the left-field line to put the Catamounts back in front. A fielder’s choice drove Koehler home before Blaquiere hit a line-drive homer over the left field fence on a full count to cap the four-run rally.
The Wolfpack cut the deficit in half, however, in the home portion of the third on a two-run double by Brad Debo to make it 6-4 through three. Debo finished 2-for-5, while Christian Demby reached four times with two walks in a 2-for-3, one RBI effort for NC State.
In the fourth, WCU put together a three-run, two-out rally to take the 9-4 edge. Caleb Robinson delivered his second RBI of the day on a double down the left-field line before his younger brother, Luke, plated two on a double down the right-field line.
NC State chipped away at the Catamount lead with solo runs in the sixth and seventh innings but managed to strand three baserunners – one in the sixth and two in the seventh – to thwart the big inning for the home squad. In the eighth, the Wolfpack pulled to within a run as the Catamounts traded two groundball outs for runs before Sammons ended the threat with a third groundball out.
In the ninth, Sammons worked around a one-out HBP to strike out the final two batters to preserve the win.
Wolfpack freshman starter Mathieu Gauthier (0-1) took the loss, allowing a run on four hits with one walk issued. Relievers Michael Bienlien and Johnny Piedmonte both pitched 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Bienlien was roughed up for seven runs – four of which were earned – on seven this with four strikeouts against three walks. Piedmonte kept the Catamounts off the board, allowing just one baserunner on a two-out single by Luke Robinson in the top of the ninth inning.
Western Carolina (5-6) continues its eight-game road swing this week by traveling to the Midwest for its next four games. The Catamounts square off against SEC foe Missouri (10-1) in midweek action in Columbia, Mo., before a three-game set against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-6) in Lincoln.