#27 Appalachian State Baseball (25-9, 10-5 SoCon) @ Georgia Southern (22-16, 10-8 SoCon)
Appalachian will go on the road for only the second time this season for a conference series with Georgia Southern who has won seven games in a row. The Eagles have seem to found their groove after losing All-America candidate Victor Roache to a broken wrist earlier in the year. Appalachian and Georgia Southern have played three common conference foes this year. Both teams swept Davidson, and both teams won two games against Charleston. Elon swept Georgia Southern at home while Appalachian managed a win at Elon. The Eagles lost a series to Furman, while winning one over UNC-Greensboro. The Eagles are currently ranked #74 in the RPI according to WarrenNolan.com.
The Eagles have had ten different pitchers get a start this year and that has lead to a 5.10 team ERA. Third baseman Eric Phillips has helped pick up the slack from Roache’s injury. The senior is batting .397 and leads the team in hits, RBI’s, doubles, and total bases. Freshman catcher Chase Griffin is hitting .320 with nine home runs but has 27 strikeouts in only 97 at bats.
Appalachian will look to break out of its recent hitting slump. The Mountaineers are only batting .209 in its last two games, losses to Charleston and Gardner-Webb. It was the first time this season the Mountaineers suffered back to back losses. Errors doomed the Mountaineers against Gardner-Webb and have been a problem all season long. The issue is not constantly booting the ball or making a bad throw, but avoiding the first error. The Mountaineers have committed an error in 20 of the 31 games this season. The problem is that 37 errors have been commited in those 20 games. That basically says Appalachian commits 1.85 errors a game, in games where an error occurs. There have been 11 games where errors have not been committed. There have been nine games where one error was commited. So, in turn, Appalachian has commited 9 errors in 20 games with one error or fewer. In the other eleven games, Appalachian has commited 28 errors, which is 2.5 errors per game.
ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (5-0, 4.63) vs GSU Jr. RHP Chris Beck (4-2, 3.49)
Both starting pitchers got off to a rough start, but it was Ryan Arrowood who was composed enough to keep Georgia Southern at bay in a 5-1 win for the Mountaineers. Arrowood struggled with control in the early innings, with three walks in the second and third innings, but settled down in innings four through seven, scattering three hits to keep his record perfect on the season. Arrowood allowed one earned run and struck out seven batters on 105 pitches.
Appalachian got on the board early with three runs in the first inning off of Georgia Southern ace Chris Beck, who gave up four runs on the night in six innings of work. Appalachian loaded the bases in the first with back to back singles by Tyler Zupcic and Will Callaway. Beck then sandwiched a strikeout of Tyler Tewell with walks to Daniel Kassouf and Jeremy Dowdy which brought in the first run of the game. Trey Holmes singled to bring it two runs to give Appalachian an early 3-0 lead. Daniel Kassouf added his 12th homerun of the season in the third inning which Southern answered with an RBI bunt by Eric Phillips in the bottom of the inning. The score would stay 4-1 Appalachian until the ninth inning when Callaway knocked in Hector Crespo, who singled and was bunted over to second base by Zupcic. Nathan Hyatt finished the game with a rare four strikeout ninth inning in a non-save situation.
Brnadon Burris finished the game going 3-4 at the plate, but did not score. Callaway and Tewell added two hits each. Appalachian pounded out twelve hits on the night and did not commit any errors in the field. Georgia Southern head coach Rodney Hennon was ejected in the ninth for arguing the play at the plate where Crespo scored. He will not be able to coach Saturday’s game.
ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-1, 2.22) vs GSU Jr. RHP Justin Hess (1-1, 5.67 ERA)
The issues that the Appalachian Baseball team had been facing in 2012 reared their ugly heads once again. Appalachian commited four errors, which led to five runs for Georgia Southern. It was largest margin defeat of the season for Appalachian in the 13-3 Eagle rout. The day may have been Georgia Southern’s for the taking, with the team rallying for their coach who was suspended for the remainder of the series after being ejected on Friday night. It was also the nightcap for a day of festivities as the the Eagle Football team held their annual Blue-White game.
Seth Grant (6-2, 2.98) had won his last six starts, but was nowhere near form in what became his shortest appearance of the season. It was the first time all season Grant did not get through the fifth inning. In fact, it was not a good day for the entire ASU pitching staff. Every pitcher allowed at least one run besides Chad Farmer who threw a hitless sixth inning with two strikeouts.
Appalachian was able to get its ten hits in the first six innings, but could not get a timely hit and was able to score only three runs. Hector Crespo (.318) recorded three hits, a run and an RBI. Will Callaway (.400), Tyler Tewell (.383), and Noah Holmes (.208) had two hits each in the losing effort.
ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (4-2, 4.30) vs GSU So. RHP Will Middour (1-2, 4.61 ERA)
A furious late rally by the Mountaineers was not enough as Georgia Southern won the series with a 7-6 win on Sunday afternoon. Appalachian was winless on the season when trailing after eight innings and Georgia Southern had not given up a lead in the same scenario. Daniel Kassouf swatted his 13th homerun of the season in the eighth inning, a three run bomb which pulled Appalachian back within two runs heading into the ninth inning.
Down to their last out, pinch hitter Preston Troutman legged out an infield single which was followed by a single by Hector Crespo which put the tying run on first base. Tyler Zupcic doubled down the left field line which plated Troutman and put runners on 2nd and 3rd base. It was up to Will Callaway to deliver the game winning hit, which he came just inches from doing, when Eagle center fielder Scooter Williams made a diving catch to seal the victory.
Rob Marcello suffered the loss moving to 4-3 on the season and saw his ERA move to the highest point of the season at 4.59. Kassouf had two hits and four RBI on the day. The starting six through nine spots in the Appalachian lineup went 0-12 on the day with two walks.
With College of Charleston playing one more series than the rest of the conference, the standings looks very odd. By winning percentage, there is now a four way tie between the Cougars, Elon, Appalachian and Western Carolina. However, Appalachian and Western are in better position with only five conference losses each.
Geo. Southern 10-8