May 24, 2022

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The Passionate of Travel

Catamounts Travel to Charleston to Face The Citadel

Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina opens consecutive road Southern Conference series this weekend, traveling to Charleston, S.C., and Riley Park for a three-game set against The Citadel Bulldogs. The series opens on Friday at 5 p.m., with a 2 p.m. start on Saturday, and concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.
 
Each game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com.
 
Western Carolina (16-20, 1-5 SoCon) snapped a two-game slide with a solid 11-3 nonconference victory over Gardner-Webb on Tuesday evening at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium in Cullowhee. The Catamounts have won two of the first three with the Runnin’ Bulldogs with the third-midweek meeting slated for May 17 in Boiling Springs, N.C. Reliever Lucas Hartman struck out a career-high nine in a five-inning relief effort to help guide the Catamounts to the win.
 
Heading to Charleston, WCU will face its third-straight team with the Bulldog moniker including Samford last weekend, Gardner-Webb in the midweek, and The Citadel this weekend. A fourth game against a Bulldog – UNC Asheville – was rained out back on April 12.
 
Batting .284 as a squad, the Catamounts rank fifth in the SoCon overall and have tallied 130 extra-base hits including 73 doubles, a league-leading 17 triples, and 40 home runs. WCU’s 17 three-base hits rank the Catamounts tied for fifth in the NCAA rankings. Will Prater is leading the Catamount regulars with a .356 seasonal batting average, ranking second on the squad in both doubles (12) and triples (3) while pacing WCU with 35 RBI. Zach Ketterman, who missed the midweek tilt with Gardner-Webb, has a SoCon-best five triples while Bryson Parks is tied for second in the conference with a team-leading 13 doubles.
 
With three individuals among the Top 10 in hit by pitches – Ketterman (10), Parks (10), and Immanuel Wilder (8) – WCU leads the SoCon with 70 HBPs this season, a mark that ranks the Catamounts tied for 11th in the NCAA. Parks carries a team-best active nine-game hitting streak into the series while Prater has hit in six consecutive games. Preseason SoCon Player of the Year Pascanel Ferreras has reached base successfully in 11-straight games, reaching five times in Tuesday’s win over Gardner-Webb as he finished a single shy of the cycle, adding a walk and an HBP.
 
Coming off a 15-strikeout performance against Gardner-Webb, WCU ranks third in the SoCon with 325 combined strikeouts as a team. Zebby Matthews leads WCU and the SoCon with 68 strikeouts including a SoCon-best 27 strikeouts looking. Zach Franklin is scheduled to make his second consecutive start on the hill after making the move from the backend of the bullpen to the starting role last week against Samford.
 
The Citadel (20-16, 1-5 SoCon) enters this weekend’s matchup winners of two of its last three, erupting for 22 runs to salvage a win at rival VMI last Sunday in seven innings before splitting in the midweek with a road loss Tuesday at North Florida (12-3) and a home win over Charleston Southern (6-2). The Bulldogs had dropped both of their opening SoCon series after being swept on opening weekend at Mercer and dropped two at VMI.
 
Though this weekend’s three-game set represents the first home conference series for The Citadel, the Cadets played 23 of their first 24 games at Riley Park to open the 2022 season. The Bulldogs’ lone road contest among the first month and a half came within county boundaries at Charleston Southern in the northern reaches of Charleston County.
 
The Citadel enters the weekend batting .265 collectively as a team – seventh in the eight-team SoCon – with 90 extra-base hits including 62 doubles, six triples, and 22 home runs, the fewest in the league mainly because of the conditions and configuration of its home ballpark. Bulldog pitchers rank fourth in the SoCon in ERA at 5.08 while limiting opponents to a .267 average against to rank fourth, allowing the fewest home runs against on the season at just 22.
 
Outfielder Ryan McCarthy was the lone Bulldog named to the preseason All-SoCon team with a first-team nod as both he (March 28) and outfield partner Cole Simpson (Feb. 28) have collected weekly plaudits from the league this season. Friday starter Devin Beckley was dubbed SoCon Pitcher of the Week back on March 21.
 
On the mound, The Citadel’s first two scheduled starters – right-handers Devin Beckley and Cameron Reeves – rank tied for eighth in the SoCon with 52 strikeouts each, Reeves recording 15 of those looking.
 
After sweeping all five games played last year including the three-game set to close the regular season in Charleston, Western Carolina holds a 94-68 all-time series lead over the Bulldogs including six-consecutive wins overall and four straight victories at Riley Park. WCU won tallied both a four-run and a five-run win in Cullowhee in late March 2021 before winning 2-1, 6-3 in 11 innings, and closed the season with a resounding 21-0 victory in seven innings last spring.
 
WCU and The Citadel have combined to win 44 conference championships all-time including 26 regular-season crowns and a combined 18 tournament titles. The Catamounts have won 23 total conference championships – 13 regular season and 10 tournaments – while the Bulldogs have won a total of 21 banners including 13 regular season and eight tournaments. The two programs have both advanced to the SoCon Championship game a combined 30 times and have met for the title six times – 1988, 1990, 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2010 – with the Bulldogs winning five titles over WCU.
 
After returning from the South Carolina Lowcountry, WCU hosts Presbyterian in the midweek in Cullowhee on Wednesday, April 27, before traveling to Lexington, Va., to face VMI in league play, April 29 through May 1.
 
Keep track of everything with WCU Athletics and Catamount baseball including weather-related schedule updates through social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/CatamountSports), Twitter (@Catamounts, @CatamountBSB), and Instagram (wcu_catamounts, catamountbsb).
 
Projected Starting Pitcher Matchups:
Friday, April 22  |  6:00 p.m.  |  Coverage: ESPN+  |  Live Stats
Probable Starters:
Western Carolina – RHP Zach Franklin (2-1, 2.40 ERA, 30.0 IP, 38K, 7BB)
The Citadel – RHP Devin Beckley (4-2, 2.78 ERA, 45.1 IP, 52K, 23BB)
 
Saturday, April 23  |  2:00 p.m.  |  Coverage: ESPN+  |  Live Stats
Probable Starters:
Western Carolina – RHP Gavin Mortenson (2-5, 5.08 ERA, 44.1 IP, 35K, 12BB)
The Citadel – RHP Cameron Reeves (2-4, 4.74 ERA, 49.1 IP, 52K, 16BB

Sunday, April 24  |  1:00 p.m.  |  Coverage: ESPN+  |  Live Stats

Probable Starters:

Western Carolina – TBA

The Citadel – LHP Fisher Paulson (3-2, 4.57 ERA, 41.1 IP, 33K, 22BB)