Published in Sports on June 8, 2006 2:01 PM
CULLOWHEE -- Eastern Wayne graduate and Western Carolina senior Brian McCullen was taken in the 38th round (1,130 overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates on the second day of the 2006 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
McCullen graduated from Western Carolina in December of 2005 and completed his eligibility with the Catamounts this past season as a fifth-year senior. He was one of WCU's top pitchers over the past three seasons, going 17-8 on the mound during his career after going 1-1 in one season at East Carolina as a freshman.
He only needed two more wins to enter the WCU career top 10 for wins. This past season, he was 6-1 with a save, posting a 6.11 ERA. In 631/3 innings pitched, McCullen struck out 59 with just 23 walks. He ranked sixth in the SoCon with 32 appearances, which is fourth on the WCU single-season list. Despite playing at WCU just three seasons, his 83 career appearances is just 15 shy of entering the SoCon career top 10 in the category.
The three-time TIAA-CREF SoCon All-Academic team selection began this season as the "Friday starter," but moved to middle relief to fill a pressing need for WCU. As a starter, he was 0-1 with a 7.64 ERA in 172/3 innings (four appearances) with six walks and 17 strikeouts. Since the move to the bullpen, he was 6-0 with a save, allowing just 28 earned runs in 28 appearances (45.1 innings). As a relief pitcher, he only allowed 17 walks with 42 strikeouts.
In 2005, McCullen was a team-best 7-3 with three saves, including a complete-game victory over The Citadel in the SoCon Tournament. Also, his seven wins ranked seventh in the SoCon. In 2004, In 2004, his 30 appearances is tied for fifth on the WCU season list. He started that season with an 0-4 record on the mound, but ended as one of WCU's most dominant pitchers, going 4-0 over the second half. He was SoCon Pitcher of the Week after getting wins over UNC Asheville and Wofford and he secured WCU's spot in the SoCon Tourney with a win at Appalachian State. Then, he pitched in four games during the Cats' run to the championship game.
Nick Liles, who signed with the Catamounts this past fall was a 29th-round (866 overall) pick of the San Francisco Giants.
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