By Carey Phillips
Former Smoky Mountain pitcher Zebby Matthews continued his strong start in his first season at Western Carolina with a complete game victory Friday.
Matthews (3-0) allowed seven hits and no walks while striking out eight in a 6-3 win over Ball State. It was part of the First Pitch Invitational hosted by Michigan State at Fluor Field in Greenville, South Carolina.
Justice Bigbee and Daniel Walsh both had two hits for the Catamounts, who went 2-1 in the event and are 7-4 on the season.
The Cardinals broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the top of the fifth on Justin Conant’s RBI single and Aaron Simpson’s sacrifice fly.
Western countered with four runs in the bottom of the frame. After the first run scored on an error, Immanuel Wilder, Bigbee and Daylan Nanny all had RBI singles.
Ball State cut the gap to 4-3 in the seventh on Ryan Peltier’s RBI single.
WCU made it 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh on Walsh’s two-run single.
Peltier had two hits for the Cardinals.
Starting pitcher John Baker took the loss.
Michigan State held on for a 4-3 victory Saturday as both pitching staffs issued seven walks.
Pater Ahn had two hits for the Spartans.
Jarrett Olson pitched the first six and two-thirds innings for the win. He walked six but allowed just three hits.
Zach Iverson finished with one and two-thirds scoreless innings for the win.
MSU went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first on RBI singles by Ahn and Iverson.
The Cats tied it in the second on Seth Graves’ two-run double.
The Spartans regained the lead at 3-2 in the fourth on a wild pitch.
They made it 4-2 in the sixth on Jack Franks’ RBI single.
Angel Torres’ sacrifice fly in the eighth left Western down 4-3.
Chase Walter (0-2), who walked five in five and two-thirds innings, took the loss.
The Cats bounced back Sunday with a 5-3 victory over Kansas. Walsh and Colin Bertsch were both three of four at the plate. Bigbie and Nanny had two hits apiece.
Ryan Mitschele (2-1) pitched the first six and two-thirds innings for the win. He yielded six hits and three walks to go with seven strikeouts.
Franklin went the final two innings for his second save. He struck out five of the eight batters he faced.
Western scored on Walsh’s RBI single in the bottom of the first.
The Jayhawks tied it in the third on Dylan Ditzenberger’s RBI single.
WCU took the lead for good at 2-1 in the bottom of the third as Wilder drove in a run with an infield out.
The Cats extended the margin to 5-1 with three runs in the fourth. Jalen Jones had an RBI double, and Bigbie and Nanny delivered RBI singles.
Kansas closed within 5-3 in the seventh on Anthony Tulimero’s two-run homer.
Ditzenberger had two hits for the Jayhawks.
Starting pitcher Eli Davis took the loss.