Western Carolina 6, Rider University 5
CULLOWHEE, NC—Rider banged out 10 hits but it was not enough to defeat the Catamounts Friday in the first of a three-game series at Western Carolina. “We certainly put ourselves in position to win the game,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis. “We played hard all night. A lot of good things came out of today.”
Western Carolina (9-7) scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on four hits to take a 6-5 lead.
Rider (3-10) junior Kurt Sowa (Bensalem, PA/Fr. Judge) pitched six innings, allowing four runs on five hits, leaving the game with a 5-4 lead. “Kurt kept us in the ball game,” Davis said.
Rider took a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth inning when sophomore catcher Connor Luff (Milford, DE/Milford) hit a two-run single with two outs. “Very big hit,” Davis said of his back-up catcher. “That was a big hit for him. It picked us up and gave us the lead. He did a good job.”
Luff batted .294 last season in limited action as a rookie.
The Broncs tied the score at 3-3 in the third inning by scoring two runs on two hits and a WCU error.
WCU scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning on four hits.
Thomas had two RBI. “Thomas, Richter, Kagel and Crescenzo swung the bat,” Davis said.
Richter made a diving catch in the sixth inning to preserve the lead. “He made a nice play,” Davis said.
The Catamounts won 39 games last season, finishing first in the Southern Conference, and began 2014 by defeating second ranked Mississippi State and #15 Clemson. “They are a good team,” Davis said. “Today we stood toe to toe with them. Now we have to go back out there and contend with them tomorrow.”
The second and third games of the series will be played in a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 12:30 pm. “We have two nine-inning games tomorrow so that will test us a bit,” Davis said. “Tomorrow will be tough, but I liked what I saw today.”
Sunday’s game was moved to Saturday due to heavy rain in Sunday’s forecast.
“We just have to keep at it and keep plugging away,” Davis said. “We’re not a 3-10 team. A 3-10 team does not play a team like Western Carolina as well as we played them today. But we’re making mistakes, at times when you cannot afford it, which have led to our current record. Part of the reason we were able to play them tough today is because we’ve played a tough schedule. If we keep playing hard it will all work out. We are certainly capable of doing it.”