Cullowhee, NC - Joe Burg went six innings, allowing five hits and one earned run while fanning six, and Kenny Jackson went 2-5 with a home run and two RBIs as Hofstra took the opening game of a three-game series from Western Carolina, 5-2, Saturday afternoon at Hennon Stadium.
Hofstra (3-6) and Western Carolina (4-6) were supposed to play a doubleheader, but snow overnight delayed the start of the game until 3 p.m. The teams will now play a doubleheader Sunday starting at 11 a.m.
The Catamounts opened up a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first without a hit as Bradley Strong drew a one-out walk, stole second and came in on a throwing error on what should have been an inning ending groundout.
Western Carolina went ahead in the bottom of the frame as Cody Jones reached on an infield single and scored on a two-out double from J.D. Long.
Once again Hofstra had an answer as it tied the score in the fourth as Matt Reistetter singled home Cafiero, who walked to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a groundout and wild pitch. The Pride took the lead for good in the fifth as Jackson led off the inning with his second home run of the season, a shot to right field that put Hofstra on top, 3-2.
Hofstra tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh as Taylor Stuart singled and went to second on a wild pitch. After a foul out, Jackson delivered his second RBI of the game with a single to right that plated Stuart. Joe Perez followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Cafiero singled in Jackson to make it 5-2 but Perez was cut down at the plate to end the inning.
Andrew Barbarino relieved Burg (2-1) to begin the seventh and threw two scoreless innings. He started the ninth by allowing a leadoff single before giving way to Bryan Verbitsky. The junior closer had a batter reach on an error but struck out two of the four batters he faced, including Strong, who represented the tying run, to end the game to earn his third save of the season. The save was also the 11th of Verbitsky's career, moving him into second place on the Pride's all-time list, passing Jeff Guthridge (2008-11). He now trails leader Jeff Denlea (2004-07) by three.
Cafiero finished with two hits in three at bats and a pair of RBIs, while Stuart also had two hits for the Pride.
Jones had three of the
Catamounts seven hits on the day.Western Carolina starter Jordan Smith took the loss after allowing seven hits and three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.