CULLOWHEE, N.C. — A seven-run second inning lifted the Western Carolina Catamounts to a 9-3 victory over the Georgia Southern Eagles in the opener of a three-game Southern Conference series.
Jeremy Null (4-2) settled down after allowing three runs over the first three innings and earned the win with a quality start. Null struck out a career-high 14 batters over eight innings and allowed just three runs.
Julian Ridings led the Western Carolina (24-16, 13-6 SoCon) offense, who tallied nine hits, with two hits and three RBIs. Aaron Attaway added three hits, a run and a RBI. For Georgia Southern (21-17, 10-9 SoCon) Tyler Avera had two hits and scored a run.
Justin Hess (3-4) suffered the loss after allowing nine runs — two earned — on seven hits. Hess struck out 10 batters over 5.2 innings while walking a pair. Clint Taylor tossed the final 2.1 innings and did not allow a run.
Hess worked around a lead off walk in the first inning and struck out a pair of batters after Griffin threw Attaway out at second base. The senior righthander retired the side in order in the third inning and worked around an error in the fifth inning after allowing a single run in the fourth.
The Catamounts sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and scored seven runs on four hits. The inning started after Jacob Hoyle reached base on a wild pitch after striking out. Bradley Strong plated the first two runs in the inning with a double in the left field gap. Julian Ridings capped off the inning with a three-run homer down the line in right field.
In the top half of the frame, T.D. Davis homered off the high left field wall to give the Eagles an early 1-0 lead. GSU answered WCU's big inning with two runs in the third inning. Stryker Brown plated a lead off single by Avera with a triple, and Chase Griffin plated a two-out run with a single.
The Catamounts added onto their 7-3 lead with single runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
Ridings scored from third base on a wild pitch in the fourth inning. He doubled with one out and reached third base on the Hoyle fielder's choice. Hoyle struck out in the sixth inning but the ball got away from the catcher Griffin allowing Ridings to score from third base.
The three-game Southern Conference series continues tomorrow at 4 p.m. Jason Richman will make his 10th start of the season and is looking to bounce back after allowing four runs over three innings against The Citadel last Sunday.