May 29, 2010

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CBI Live: SoCon Game 11: #7 ASU 3, #6 WCU 2

CBI Live: SoCon Game 12: #1 The Citadel 6, #4 Elon 5 (10)

CBI Live
Another SoCon thriller puts WCU in championship game

By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHARLESTON, S.C. – It was the third walk-off win of the day by the third different team.


After seventh-seeded Appalachian State tied it in the top of the ninth, freshman Tyler White had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the frame as sixth-seeded Western Carolina posted a 7-6 victory on Day 4 of the Southern Conference Tournament at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.


The Catamounts (37-20-1) will meet top-seeded The Citadel in the championship game on Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT. The Mountaineers complete their season at 38-18-1.


“What an awesome tournament,” said WCU head coach Bobby Moranda. “We have a great league here. I think our league nationally is very underrated and deserves a lot more respect that what it’s getting. Our league is outstanding from top to bottom and I feel that’s why the tournament has been so tight and well-played excellent baseball games. Today was no exception. That was an excellent baseball game – no errors, tremendous relief pitching, competitive by both teams, just amazing, amazing.”


Ross Heffley (pictured above) had a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth and was sacrificed to second. Trevor Collias was intentionally walked and Cameron Dullrig was hit by a pitch to load the bases. White dropped a single into right to plate Heffley with the game-winner.


“I was hoping to get something up in the zone to get out in the outfield so the run could score and win the game,” White said.


Brandon Johnson (9-1) got the win in relief, working three innings with three hits, one run, three walks and four strikeouts. Andrew Chilcoat was also effective out of the bullpen for the Mountaineers, allowing five hits and one run in 3.1 innings with one walk and two strikeouts.


Hector Crespo had a single in the top of the ninth and scored on a base hit by David Towarnicky as ASU tied it at six.


“In all the games that we’ve played,” said ASU head coach Chris Pollard, “as well as the whole tournament, there has been a lot of walk-off wins. It’s a sign of the strength of the conference to have so many close ballgames and good battles like that. I thought that Western played well. I thought both clubs played well. I’m really proud of our guys. A couple of plays here or there, it could have been a different ballgame”.


Towarnicky belted a three-run homer with two outs in the top of the third to give ASU a 4-1 lead.


Tyler Kirkpatrick ripped a two-run double in the third and Ollie Goulder belted a two-run homer in the fourth as WCU took a 5-4 advantage.


Crespo singled and scored on a double play in the fifth as the Mountaineers tied it at 5.


Goulder finished with two hits and three RBI. White had two hits and scored twice. Heffley and Matt Johns both added a pair of hits for WCU.


Towarnicky, a senior Academic All-American, had two hits and four RBI for ASU. Crespo had three hits and three runs, while senior Wes Hobson went 3 for 3 to raise his batting average to .404.


“They’ll leave a legacy and leave a mark,” Pollard said. “The guys that have been here four years are some of the winningest seniors in the 100-plus-year history of the program. Not only that, but they are great kids and they’re great representatives for Appalachian State and they certainly will be missed.”


WCU had scored in the bottom of the ninth this morning to register a 3-2 win over ASU to force the second game of the day.


“We talked about adversity is preparation for greatness,” Moranda said. “We talked about that between games. You just have to keep fighting in the game of baseball. There’s no clock. If you fight and you compete, and you have the proper attitude, you give yourself an opportunity. We did that from start to finish tonight. Hopefully we can come out tomorrow with some energy and give The Citadel a game.”


The last time WCU won the SoCon title was in 2003 as the top seed. The last appearance in the championship game for the Catamounts came in 2004, when The Citadel beat WCU in the final two games of the tournament to claim the crown.


“That’s where we wanted to be,” Moranda said. “You want to get to Championship Sunday in these tournaments. I’ve been to a bunch of these and you just survive to get there. Once you get there, anything can happen. We’re really pleased. We’ll going to enjoy this one tonight and we’ll start getting after it in the morning getting ready for tomorrow’s game.”


(photos courtesy of Southern Conference Media Relations Office)