Cullowhee, N.C. – Making his second start of the week, redshirt sophomore RHP Ryan Mitschele tossed a complete game that included seven shutout innings for Western Carolina on Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale against The Citadel. However, three Bulldog pitchers including freshman starter Lathan Todd limited the Catamounts to a run on just four singles in claiming the series rubber match and the series with a 3-1 victory at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The Citadel (12-42, 5-19 SoCon) plated all the runs it would need over the first two frames including a pair of markers in the first inning on a Ben Peden double and a WCU error, with what proved to be an insurance marker tacked on in the second again initiated by a Catamount miscue and a run-scoring single by Ryan McCarthy.
After a first-inning single by Luke Robinson, Western Carolina (20-30, 8-16 SoCon) went five innings between base hits despite five runners reaching on walks over the first six innings. The Catamounts had scoring opportunities multiple base runners in the first and fourth innings before loading the bases with two outs in the seventh but were unable to score.
Down to its final three outs in the ninth inning, WCU put two aboard as Immanuel Wilder singled and Justin Sparks walked ahead of The Citadel’s lone miscue of the game on a would-be double-play with the errant throw allowing Wilder to score to trim the deficit to two. Daylan Nanny reached on his second walk of the ball game to put him and Jalen Jones on. However, with the game-tying run at second base, The Citadel got a ground ball out up the middle to end the game and the series.
All told, WCU stranded 11 base runners in its second-consecutive loss to the Bulldogs.
Mitschele (0-3), who matched a career-high with six strikeouts in 4.1 innings in the start on Tuesday against Eastern Kentucky at Prasco Park, struck out five without issuing a walk on Saturday in a career-long effort of nine innings. At one point, the Statesville, N.C., native retired eight-straight Bulldog batters including four by strikeout. He allowed three runs – only one of which was earned – as a pair of errors between the first and second innings aided The Citadel in scoring its three runs in denying Mitschele his first collegiate win.
Wilder collected two of WCU’s four hits, reaching base a third time on a walk after earning the start in left field. Robinson and Will Prater added singles, the latter coming on a bunt down the third base line. Nanny and Andrew Bullock also reached twice apiece with a pair of walks as WCU reached eight times on freebies, but was unable to capitalize.
Todd (1-0) scored his first collegiate victory in his first career start for the Bulldogs, tossing six scoreless, one-hit innings while countering five walks with five strikeouts. Zach Taglieri struck out two in an inning of relief work, pitching around a walk and a pair of this, while Ches Goodman – who started the game as the designated hitter, finishing 1-for-4 – scored his first save, surrendering an unearned run on a hit and two walks.
McCarthy singled twice and Peden doubled as a part of a 2-for-4 effort, both driving in runs. Will Bastian reached base twice with a single and an HBP as The Citadel scored just its second road victory of the year.
Seeded eighth, Western Carolina turns its attention to the 2019 Southern Conference Baseball Championship, presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C., which opens Tuesday morning. The Catamounts will face No. 9 The Citadel at 10 am on Tuesday in the single-elimination portion of the tournament with the winner advancing to Wednesday’s game against top-seed Samford at 9 am. Each game of the tournament will be broadcast on the SoCon Digital Network (SDN) with live streaming video, with live audio from the Catamount Sports Network (CSN) available online at CatamountSports.com.