Appalachian State Baseball (36-12, 20-7 SoCon) @ Samford (33-19, 19-11)

Last weekend, the series against Greensboro was a big deal for Appalachian, and this weekend, the baseball games mean even more. The race is super tight for the SoCon regular season crown, and both Samford and Appalachian can make major strides to achieving their goals this weekend. Appalachian is in a good spot, controlling its own destiny, needing to win four of its last six conference games to secure the title. Samford really needs a sweep as they sit a game behind second place Charleston. Appalachian has to play its final six conference games on the road, and Samford is 7-5 at home this season against conference opponents. Those game include series wins over Citadel and Furman, taking three games from Western Carolina, and being swept by Elon. Samford had won seven in a row and eleven of twelve games before falling in the series finale at Georgia Southern last weekend.

This series will be a battle of offenses versus pitching. Both Samford and Appalachian have superior pitching staffs and high team batting averages. Appalachian hits .317 as a team compared to the .303 that Samford hits. Samford’s pitching staff edges out Appalachian with a 3.68 team ERA compared the the Mountaineers’ 3.72. This could be a very interesting series considering these powerful numbers for both teams. Most likely we will see a series very similar to the one at Georgia Southern. I doubt either team sweeps, but I can see one pitching duel, a one run game, and one blowout.

Probable Starters

Game 1

ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (9-0, 3.77) vs. SU Sr. RHP Charles Basford (8-2, 3.87)

Two great performances by both starting pitchers resulted in neither one earning a decision. This game was up to the bullpens when Samford starter Charles Basford left in the eighth inning with runners on first and second base and one out. Samford reliever Joseph Burns balked the runners to scoring position before he threw his first pitch. Burns was able to force a groundout before a confusing intentional walk to the slumping Jeremy Dowdy with two outs. The second pitch to Trey Holmes hit him, which brought in the tying run heading into the bottom half of the inning.

Not to be outdone, Appalachian’s bullpen allowed a run on two hits with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to give the lead back to Samford heading into the final inning. Samford needed three outs to win the game. After Arthur Strauss was able to retire pinch hitter Brandon Burris, he issued a walk to Appalachian’s leading base stealer Hector Crespo. Strauss sandwiched a walk to Tyler Zupcic between Crespo stealing second and third base. Will Callaway endured a nine pitch at-bat and reached base on a fielders choice RBI that scored Crespo. With runners on first and second, Daniel Kassouf popped up in the infield. With the score now knotted at four runs apiece and still two outs, Samford’s bullpen had given up a lead in consecutive innings. Tyler Tewell would face Samford’s third pitcher of the inning, and he wasted no time. Tewell singled on the first pitch, scoring Zupcic and putting Callaway on third. Lex Rutledge would then balk, allowing Callway to score, and moving Tewell to second base. Jeremy Dowdy would then single on a 0-2 count to plate the fourth run of the inning for Appalachian on only two hits.

The bottom of the ninth inning was uneventful as Nathan Hyatt retired the side on seven pitches for his twelfth save of the season. Appalachian scored five runs in their final two at bats for the come from behind win. Rhyne Frankoff (1-1) was credited the win by striking out one batter in the eighth inning. Tyler Tewell collected two hits and two RBI, including his sixth home run of the season on a solo shot in the sixth inning. Hector Crespo and Tyler Zupcic also collected two hits. For Ryan Arrowood (9-0, 3.66), it was his fourth no decision of the season and he threw 100 pitches or more in his third consecutive start. Arrowood has also lowered his ERA in six straight starts. Arrowood only managed two strikeouts for the game, his lowest total of the season.

Game 2

ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-2, 3.08) vs. SU Sr. RHP Josh Martin (9-1, 3.42)

Since Samford’s bullpen gave Appalachian the win in the first game of the doubleheader, it was only fair for the Mountaineers to return the favor. Seth Grant pitched seven innings, only giving up four hits, but managed to find himself with his fourth consecutive no decision. Appalachian needed five pitchers in the eighth inning to retire Samford. The Bulldogs recorded five of their nine hits in the eighth and also took advantage of a two out walk to score four runs, which provided the final margin, giving Samford a 4-2 win.

Appalachian could only manage five hits and two runs against Samford starter Josh Martin, who went the distance to earn the complete game. Martin threw 120 pitches, striking out six Mountaineers and only walking one. Appalachian scored their two runs on Martin in the first inning when Crespo and Zupcic led off the game with singles. Callaway was able to reach base after a throwing error which scored Crespo and allowed Zupcic to advance to third base. Daniel Kassouf grounded into a double play, but Zupcic scored on the play. Four of the five Mountaineer hits came from its top three batters in the lineup. Appalachian scored two runs or less for only the fifth time all season and fell to 1-4 in those games.

Game 3

ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (6-3, 4.04) vs. SU Sr. RHP Kyle Putkonen (2-5, 5.85)

In the all important rubber match, Appalachian took advantage of nine free passes and twelve hits  to hold off Samford for a 9-7 win. The Mountaineers were able to chase Samford starter Kyle Putkonen after only three innings, where he allowed five hits and three runs. For the third straight game, an Appalachian starting pitcher did not garner a decision, the first instance all season. Rob Marcello was able to get through 4.2 innings, but allowed nine hits and issued four walks.

Jeremy Dowdy might have broken his slump as he hit a two-run home run in the second inning. Dowdy exited in the fifth inning in what appears to be a move to rest him, considering catching a doubleheader the previous day. Hector Crespo, Will Callaway, Daniel Kassouf and Tyler Tewell all collected two hits each. Callaway, Kassouf and Tewell all recorded their 15th double of the season. Jamie Nunn (5-0) picked up the win in relief despite allowing two runs. Tyler Moore recorded his first save of the season, the only save not recorded by Nathan Hyatt this season.

With the series win, Appalachian eliminated Samford from conference title contention. Elon still has an outside chance if they were to sweep Citadel next weekend, Appalachian were to be swept by Western Carolina, and Charleston were to be swept by Greensboro. The likelihood of that happening is very slim, but its a possibility. Most importantly, Appalachian moved its magic number to two. The Mountaineers need a combination of wins or Charleston losses to clinch its first conference title since in twenty five years. Furman remains in eighth place, and would be Appalachian’s first round opponent if the conference tournament were to start today. Furman holds a one game lead over Greensboro for the final tournament spot and can clinch that spot with two wins over Davidson, as it holds the tiebreaker over Greensboro.

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: Samford Postgame and Chattanooga Pregame

The Lady Mountaineers had to stave off a second half rally from the Samford Bulldogs, but held on down the stretch to win 57-53 on the road. It was Samford’s first conference loss at home all season. The Mountaineers improved to 23-4 on the season and 17-2 in conference play. The Mountaineers dominated the boards with a 45-31 advantage. Maryah Sydnor scored ten points and grabbed eight rebounds. Kelsey Sharkey added seven points, eight rebounds and four assists. Anna Freeman added 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and four blocks.

Later in the day, the Davidson Wildcats lost on the road at Chattanooga, Appalachian’s next opponent, and in turn gave up control of their own destiny. Appalachian has clinched at least a share of the regular season title and can win it outright with a win on Monday evening. The top three seeds in the conference tournament are now determined. Appalachian, Chattanooga and Davidson are the top three seeds, but the order is not set. If Samford and Elon tie, the tiebreaker would go to Samford, so they are locked in as the 4 seed. Elon is locked in as the fifth seed. Regardless of seeding, those two are now guaranteed a matchup in the SoCon tournament in the 4/5 game.

Since Appalachian is guaranteed to be first or second seed, we can now look into potential first round matchups. If Appalachian is the top seed, they will play the winner of the 8/9 game, which could include Charleston, Wofford or Georgia Southern. If Appalachian is the two seed, they will play the winner of the 7/10 game. The seven seed will come down to Monday’s results which will be either Western Carolina or Furman. No matter, the opponent or their seed, Appalachian will have beat their first round opponent twice already this season.

SoCon Standings

App State        17-2        @Chattanooga

Davidson        16-3        @ Samford

Chattanooga     15-4      Appalachian

Samford         12-7           Davidson

Elon                11-8           Western Carolina

Furman          9-10            Ga. Southern

Updated SoCon North Standings 2/23/2012

So what has changed in a day? Everything. As expected, Elon lost big on the road at Davidson. Western led by double digits in the first half over Samford, but the Bulldogs made a late push before falling by two points on the road. UNC-Greensboro has locked the North Division championship with the Elon and Samford losses. Greensboro’s game against Elon on Saturday means nothing to them, but plenty for the Phoenix. With a win and a Samford loss, Elon clinches the two seed. If Elon and Samford tie at 9-9, the 2 seed goes to Samford, with two head to head wins over Elon. If they tie at 8-10, it brings the winner of Appalachian and Western Carolina into play. A three way tie with Appalachian gives Samford the two seed, Appalachian the three seed and Elon the four seed via head to head games against the three schools. Appalachian split those four games, while Elon was 1-3 and Samford was 3-1. If there is a three way tie between Elon, Samford and Western Carolina, the four seed goes to Elon with a 1-3 record against the tied schools. Samford is 2-2, getting swept by Western Carolina, and in turn sweeping Elon. Western would be 3-1 against the tied schools and grab the two seed. In short, these four teams can be in any of three seeding spots, and in some cases four, depending on the results on Saturday afternoon.

Getting the two seed is critical and only Samford controls their own destiny with a win. What is the big difference between the third, fourth and fifth seeds? The third seed in the North plays The Citadel in the first round of the tournament. The fourth seed plays the fifth from the South and the fifth seed plays the fourth in the South, which will either be Charleston or Furman, who are currently tied at 8-9. Charleston is most likely to take the four seed, with a game against Citadel on the road, which is really a couple miles up the street, while Furman travels 30 minutes up the road to Spartanburg. If Furman and Charleston stay tied after Saturday, Charleston gets the four seed since they beat South Division champion Davidson while Furman lost to the Wilcats twice.

SoCon North Standings

UNCG      10-7       @Elon

Elon             8-9        UNCG

Samford       8-9      @UTC

App St          7-10     @WCU

WCU             7-10      App St

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: 2/22/12 Updated SoCon Standings

Samford snagged a huge home win over third place Chattanooga that keeps them alive for bye contention going into the conference tournament. From everything that I can see, this officially locks Appalachian and Davidson into the top two seeds in the tournament. Chattanooga can create a two way tie with either Davidson or Appalachian, or a three way tie with both teams, but would lose the tiebreaker in every scenario. Besides the loss the Mocs suffered on the court, the also lost ground in a potential tiebreaker scenario as well. Furman scored a nineteen point win on the road over Wofford which now gives them a 9-9 record in conference play, which is one game behind fifth place Elon, who is 10-8. Furman plays two winnable games as do the Phoenix, but Western Carolina is coming on strong late in the season and could give the Phoenix some trouble. Samford is hoping to tie Chattanooga in the standings and have Furman vault to fifth place in conference to grab the third seed.

Davidson        16-2        @ Chattanooga, @ Samford

App State        16-2        @Samford, @Chattanooga

Chattanooga     14-4      Davidson, Appalachian

Samford         12-6           Appalachian, Davidson

Elon                10-8          Wofford, Western Carolina

Furman          9-9            Charleston, Ga. Southern

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: Appalachian vs. Furman 2/20/2012 Postgame and SoCon Seeding Scenarios

The Lady Mountaineers jumped out to a quick 21 point lead early in the first half and never really looked back on a night where Appalachian honored four seniors. Both teams shot above 47% but the difference was Appalachian making ten more field goals than the Paladins in an 85-70 victory. Appalachian forced 28 turnovers with 20 of them being steals. Appalachian also recorded ten blocked shots on the evening. “TC” Weldon scored twenty points, grabbed five rebounds and dished six assists in her career finale in the Holmes Center. Maryah Sydnor added 18 points and four rebounds while Anna Freeman scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked six Paladin shots. Raven Gary added a career high 12 points.

A scary moment occured late in the first half when Courtney Freeman had her legs taken out from under her and landed hard on the court. Freeman was holding the back of her head, right where she had her back in a ponytail. Freeman walked off the court under her own power, but did not return to the game.

SoCon Standings

Davidson        16-2        @ Chattanooga, @ Samford

App State        16-2        @Samford, @Chattanooga

Chattanooga     14-3     @Samford, Davidson, Appalachian

Samford         11-6          Chattanooga, Appalachian, Davidson

I dont know if I have ever seen anything like this. In the fight for the third seed, if Samford ran the table, and Chattanooga lost the rest of their games, the teams would be tied with a conference recored of 14-6. In that situation, Samford and Chattanooga would have 1-1 records against Davidson and Appalachian. The tie would be broken by going to current fifth place team Elon, and Chattanooga would win the tie breaker by sweeping the Phoenix, while Samford split with the Paladins. If Furman were to grab the fifth seed, which is possible, Samford would win the tiebreaker with a sweep, while Chattanooga only beat the Paladins once. Althought the loss Samford suffered tonight to Western Carolina seems detrimental, they are still not technically out of the running for the third seed. All of the tiebreakers would become irrelevant if Chattanooga were to beat Samford on Wednesday. In that case, Samford is locked into the 4 seed, and Chattanooga would stay alive for the 1 seed, but face Appalachian and Davidson in the final two games of the regular season. In the event of a three way tie at the top, with Chattanooga winning out and Davidson and Appalachin both beating Samford, Davidson would win the tiebreaker with the better record against the tied schools. In that case Appalachian would earn the 2 seed with a sweep over Furman, whether they finished fifth or sixth, while Chattanooga lost to Furman. As was mentioned earlier, this race will become much clearer, or muddier, depending on Wednesday’s game between Samford and Chattanooga.

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: Appalachian @ Davidson 2/18/2012 Postgame & Appalachian vs. Furman 2/20/2012 Pregame

Appalachian suffered it’s most detrimental loss on the season on Saturday. The Apps shot 33% from the field for the game, and only attempted eight free throws. The Mountaineers shot 24 times more than the Wildcats and were called for 19 fouls to only eight for Davidson. Maryah Sydnor notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Chakeitha Weldon scored 6 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and added 4 steals in the losing effort.

Davidson now sits in the catbird seat by tying Appalachian with a 15-2 record in the SoCon North, but Davidson currently holds the tiebreaker with the season sweep over the Mountaineers. Both teams face Samford and Chattanooga on the road in the season’s final weekend, and both teams host games on Monday Night. Davidson other two losses on the season came to teams they have to play a second time, Wofford and Samford.

SoCon Standings

Davidson        15-2        Wofford, @ Chattanooga, @ Samford

App State        15-2        Furman, @Samford, @Chattanooga

Chattanooga     14-3     @Samford, Davidson, Appalachian

Samford         11-5        @WCU, Chattanooga, Appalachian, Davidson


In order for Appalachian to win the 1 seed for the tournament, they must finish a game in front of Davidson. Both Appalachian and Davidson are guaranteed to finish in the top 3 of the conference. Chattanooga still has the opportunity to win the championship, or finish fourth, and could create a three way tie if they were to win out. At this point, working out a three way tiebreaker has endless possibilities with each team in the top 4 playing each other at least twice.

Appalachian State Basketball: Appalachian @ Furman 2/9/2012 Pregame

After three straight disappointing losses, Appalachian really needs to get their season back on track. Their chances of grabbing a top two seed are diminishing with each game, and gaining a season sweep against Furman could be beneficial down the line. Appalachian is 2.5 games out of second place UNC-Greensboro, and 1.5 games behind third place Samford, and only one half game ahead of fifth place Western Carolina. Appalachian is looking for its tenth win on the season. If the season were to end today, Appalachian would face Charleston or Furman in the first round of the SoCon tournament, who are both currently tied at 6-7 in the SoCon South division.

Elon           8-4

UNCG        7-5

Samford    6-6

App St      5-8

WCU          4-8

UTC           3-9

2012 Southern Conference Tournament Bracket

Appalachian State Basketball: Appalachian @ Furman 2/9/2012

I am expecting Furman to be favored here by 4 points. I have not seen much from Appalachian in the past three games that would make me believe they would be favored.


Furman is favored at home by five points over the Mountaineers. Of all the rematch games this year between Appalachian and its conference opponents, Appalachian has failed to win on the road. To date, Appalachian’s only road wins this season were Tennessee Tech and Samford, who avenged their loss to the Mountaineers in Boone last week. Elon and UNCG defended their home courts against the Mountaineers, and in both cases, Appalachian failed to cover the spread. I have missed five straight games in a row, while Appalachian is 1-4 in the same span. Everything points to picking Furman to cover being the correct call. This will be the first time this season that I will pick the opponent to cover against the Mountaineers when they are favored. The two games where I picked the opponent, the Mountaineers were favored in both games. As a fan, it is very tough to pick the opposing team, but you have to follow the trends.

Appalachian State Basketball: Appalachian @ Furman 1/28/12 & Appalachian vs. Western Carolina 1/30/2012 Pregame

Any thoughts that Appalachian might lose a game they shouldn’t after Anna Freeman’s injury were quelled on Saturday. Freeman suffered a nasty ankle injury against Samford on Monday, but she responded with a game high 22 points and chipped in eight rebounds as the Mountaineers dominated Furman 78-63. The 78 points was Appalachian’s highest total since scoring 81 against UNCG on January 9th. Appalachian maintains its half game lead in the SoCon women’s race over second place Chattanooga who also won on Saturday. Appalachian is now 9-1 in league play with ten conference games remaining. Davidson is one game back from Appalachian in third place, while Samford and Furman are tied for fourth at 7-4 in league play.

Next up is Western Carolina who is 2-9 in league play, sitting in a three way tie for ninth place, or last depending on how you look at it. Appalachian beat Western by 36 points back in December. Appalachian was led by three double digit scores in the win in Cullowhee as Courtney Freeman scored 18 points while Anna Freeman chipped in 12 points and freshman Katie Mallow scored 14.

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball: Appalachian @ Samford 1/23/2012

Appalachian survived an injury scare a late run by the Samford Bulldogs to improve to 8-1 in SoCon play. Appalachian is now back in first place by a half game over Chattanooga, who lost on the road to Davidson. Chattanooga and Davidson are now both 8-2 in league play. Davidson is the only team that has defeated both Appalachian and Chattanooga.

The Mountaineers led by as many as 16 points at two different occasions in the second half, but Samford finally started to connect on some late three pointers and benefited from several Appalachian turnovers in the last two minutes of the game. Freshman Maryah Sydnor iced the game with two free throws to all but finish the Bulldogs. Samford, last years tournament champion, now finds itself in a tie for fifth place with Elon at 6-4 in league play.

Early in the first half, Anna Freeman went down with an ugly ankle injury and did not return to the game. Freeman was able to walk on the ankle in the second half during timeouts. Appalachian travels to fourth place Furman on Saturday. All three of Furman’s conference losses have come since January 7th, to Davidson, Chattanooga and Samford.