For the first time since their first SoCon home series, Wofford will be forced to play three games in three days. In their last two home series in conference play, against Elon and Western Carolina, Wofford was able to schedule doubleheaders on Saturday. In both of those series, Wofford took two games from their opponent. In both situations, the Terriers were able to win on Friday night behind the pitching of Brandon Yarusi, who pitched 15.1 of a possible 18 innings in those games. Against Western, Yarusi threw a complete game shutout. Those two wins account for half of Yarusi’s wins on the season. So what happened to Wofford when they had to play three games in three days in their home opening conference series against Samford? They were swept and outscored 27-14.
Appalachian must avoid the typical letdown that can occur when playing the team who is sitting in last place in the conference. Elon and Western Carolina had to learn the hard way. Appalachian’s record on the road in conference play (2-4) is not that great, but then again, the Mountaineers have visited Elon and Georgia Southern, two teams that are above .500 in conference play and will more than likely will make the eight team conference tournament. In the Chris Pollard era, Appalachian is 6-3 all time in Spartanburg. The Mountaineers swept the Terriers in 201o, their last visit to Spartanburg. Appalachian leads the league in just about every offensive category outside of hits and at-bats, but that is typical with a team that wins at home, and has had four games rained out.
ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (7-0, 3.99) vs WC Jr. RHP Brandon Yarusi (4-4, 3.03)
After all the analyzation about not playing a doubleheader this weekend, Mother Nature decided to grant Wofford its wish. The opening game on Friday was rained out and forced a twinbill on Saturday. Ryan Arrowood and Brandon Yarusi did not disappoint, combing for 15 innings pitched on 246 pitches. Both starters only allowed four hits and two earned runs to their opponent. However, a costly error in the sixth inning by Wofford provided just enough of a cushion to survive. Will Callaway was able to reach third base on a throwing error. Daniel Kassouf hit a grounder to the shortstop to score Callaway and give Appalachian the 3-2 lead. Nathan Hyatt was good enough in the eighth and ninth innings to earn his ninth save of the season.
ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-2, 3.27) vs WC Sr. LHP Pete Noordsy (2-2, 4.35)
After game one featured a pitching duel, the nightcap trended toward a shootout. The game had three lead changes and three ties, which does not sound like much, but we are talking about baseball. Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. Eight Mountaineers collected a hit in the game, but none were bigger than Preston Troutman’s final at bat of the day. Appalachian was down to its last strike in the ninth inning with Trey Holmes on second base. Troutman calmy singled in Holmes to break a 6-6 tie and give the Mountaineers the lead. In the ninth inning, Nathan Hyatt struck out two batters to get his second save of the day and tenth of the season. David Port (2-0) worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning with three fly balls on nine pitches.
Appalachian scored six runs in its final four at bats and finished with fourteen hits on the day in the series clincher. Daniel Kassouf was 3/5 with three RBI. Appalachian was nearly bit by the error bug as only three of Wofford’s runs were earned while the Mountaineers commited two errors. Appalachian improved its record to 8-5 when committing two or more errors.
ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (5-3, 4.11) vs WC Sr. LHP Cash Collins (4-5, 5.14)
It was a Florida type of day for Rob Marcello. The junior college trasnfer from Royal Palm Beach has struggled at time adjusting to the erratic weather in Boone. His fewest innings pitched all season came in a home game against Rider where the weather was cold and windy. Luckily, a 78 degree day in Spartanburg welcomed Marcello (6-3) to his 11th start of the season, in which he may have thrown his best game since defeating Lousiana State. Marcello went seven innings, allowed only two hits and struck out eight batters. It was only his third start of the season where he pitched through the seventh inning. It was also his second highest pitch total of the season, and his highest strikeout number as well. Jamie Nunn gave up one hit in the final two innings to complete the shutout.
Appalachian’s six runs were manufactured by familiar players, most especially the top of the lineup. Eight of the Mountaineers twelve hits came from its top four batters. For the first time all season, Brandon Burris batted in the second spot in the lineup and made the most of it. Burris was 2/3 with four RBI. Hector Crespo went 3/5 with a double, two runs, one stolen base and an RBI. Will Callaway was 2/5 with a run and a stolen base. Daniel Kassouf, Tyler Tewell and Jeremy Dowdy all added hits.
With the sweep, Applachian held onto its lead in the conference standings and also increased its lead with Charleston losing a game to Western Carolina. Charleston only has one SoCon series remaining, but play out of conference for the next two weeks. With three fewer losses than the rest of the conference, Appalachian controls its own destiny.