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    McDowell Masters VCU as Western Defeats Rams 2-0
    Brandon McDowell took a no-hitter into the 9th at WCU defeated VCU to advance to the NCAA Regional championship.
    Brandon McDowell took a no-hitter into the 9th at WCU defeated VCU to advance to the NCAA Regional championship.

    May 31, 2003

    Wilson, N.C. - Brandon McDowell, who pitched his first career complete game, took a no-hitter into the ninth inning to lead Western Carolina to a 2-0 win over Virginia Commonwealth late Saturday night at Fleming Stadium. The Catamounts (43-20) will face top-seed and host North Carolina State Sunday at 1 pm in the NCAA Regional championship.

    McDowell, who was coming off a masterful performance in a 1-0 win over Georgia Southern in the SoCon Tournament semifinal, was more impressive Saturday night in avenging a one-hit, 6-0 loss to the Rams (46-13). The Franklin, N.C., native cruised through the first seven innings as only two base runners reached - one a walk and one an error.

    In the eighth, McDowell walked the leadoff hitter, Nick Jones, and the runner advanced to second on a McDowell throwing error. After a pair of strikeouts, McDowell walked another to put runners on first and second. Pinch hitter Robbie Gragnani tried to spoil to no-hitter, but Todd Roper made a spectacular diving play and threw out Gragnani at first to end the frame.

    McDowell had his no-no bid broken up in top of the ninth when leadoff hitter Eric Latura blooped a single to right center. McDowell got a fly out, a strikeout and a flyout to end the game. For the contest, he walked three and struck out a career-high seven. McDowell's previous best outing came in two games versus Georgia Southern. On April 4 versus the Eagles, McDowell pitched 7.2 innings and struck out six. On May 24 versus the Eagles, he took a no-hitter into the seventh before Carlos Love broke it up to start the inning.

    Western got on the scoreboard first, tallying a run in the bottom of the fifth. The Cats took advantage of two errors in the home half. Brian Sigmon reached on an infield single and advanced to second on the play as the third baseman threw the ball away. Todd Roper followed with a single to put runners on the corners. After an out, Alan Beck grounded to short, but an error was made allowing Sigmon to score.



    The Catamounts tacked on a second run in the bottom of the sixth. Rod Goldston singled and moved to second when Denver Edick was walked. Chris Davis advanced the runners with a ground out and the Rams intentionally walked Matt Nelson to set-up the double play. However, Sigmon followed with a sacrifice fly to center. Roper drew a walk to re-load the bases and chase VCU starter Matt Pendergrast. Ram reliever Tommy Edelblut got Wayne Kilmer to fly out to end the threat.

    Western had other chances to break the game open, leaving 11 baserunners and having a player thrown out at home. Leading the way for the Cats offensively were Roper, Kilmer and Goldston. Each player had two hits with Sigmon getting credit for WCU's lone RBI.

    VCU's Pendergrast suffered his first loss of the season, falling to 8-1. He allowed eight hits and two runs (one earned) with five walks and five strikeouts. Edelblut was effective over the final 2.1, allowing just one hit and one walk with three strikeouts.

    In order to win the NCAA Regional, Western Carolina will have to win two games on Sunday as the Wolfpack have yet to lose. NC State defeated Le Moyne 8-2 in the first round and handed VCU a 4-3 loss with a walkoff homer in the 10th prior to the Cats' win over the Rams.

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