Jamie Nunn continued his consistent pitching with another strong 7 innings as the Mountaineers took game one from Georgia Southern on Friday evening 9-5. Nunn was once again over 100 pitches, and did walk four batters. He found trouble in the third inning, an inning that has become a weak spot for every Appalachian pitcher this season. Nunn allowed all four of his earned runs in the third inning. Despite the free passes, Nunn was able to improve to 6-2 on the season.
Appalachian worked the Georgia Southern pitching staff for fifteen hits. Jaylin Davis led the way with four hits and three RBI while Will Callaway added two hits and five RBI. Noah Holnes drove in the other Mountaineer run, giving the 3-4-5 hitters all of Appalachian’s RBI on the day. Josh Wilson and Taylor Thurber finished off the game allowing only two hits.
After twenty-two combined hits on Friday, App and Southern combined for only seven on Saturday afternoon in front of a record crowd at Beaver Field. Sam Agnew-Wieland gave the record crowd a show, allowing only two hits, while throwing a second complete game shutout in a week. Sam has been given several nicknames, from “Hyphen” to “Hacksaw”. The nickname of the week is Hacksaw, or Hack for short. Hack only needed 102 pitches, throwing 69 for strikes to complete the shutout.
Fortunately, for Appalachian, Hack was on fire when the Appalachian offense took a day off. The Mountaineers only had five hits, but made the most of them, scoring two runs. Will Callaway continued his hot streak with three hits. If there is one negative about Hack going nine innings, is that the Mountaineers young pitching staff is kept off the field to experience game situations.
Speaking of the young and inexperienced pitching staff, they showed their true colors in a back and forth game in which Appalachian was going for the sweep. Jeffrey Springs continues to have trouble making it deep in games, as he was able to get through 4.1 innings with his 86 pitches. Taylor Thurber came on for his usual long Sunday relief spot, but also struggled, giving up four hits in his two innings. Josh Wilson held the lead, striking out four of the five batters he faced before handing the ball over to Rob Marcello for the save with a two run lead. Marcello faced four batters. He hit one of them with a pitch and gave up three hits. Marcello was not able to retire a batter, which led to his second blown save of the season. The previous blown save came against Cornell, when Marcello gave up five runs in the top of the ninth.
From this point on, Appalachian would hit the road for a nine game stretch, including two SoCon series at UNCG and The Citadel. Greensboro is 4-8 in conference play while The Citadel is 6-6. A couple of series wins would be good for the Mountaineers, but however they came, four conference wins are needed in this stretch.
Against UNC-Asheville on Tuesday night, the Mountaineers pounded out fourteen hits, but left thirteen runners on base before eventually rallying for a 6-3 win over the Bulldogs. Chad Farmer got the start, and he has been sharing a very similar look to his outings as Springs has this season. Getting four or five innings this season from either one has been a blessing, but it comes with its adventures. Farmer was rolling along into the third inning before giving up a three run home run. The home run was all the runs Farmer allowed in his 4.1 innings while he struck out five batters. Tyler Moore would allow the tying run to come to the plate for Asheville in the ninth inning before giving way to Josh Wilson, who got the final out and his first save of the season.
The Mountaineers are now 18-10 on the season, and 8-6 in SoCon play. The remaining conference schedule is a combined 39-33 in league play, but the heavy hitters have to come to Boone while the weaker opponents are on the road. Prior to the season, we thought an 18-12 conference record was where this team would finish, and that seems to be on target for now. Considering three road conference series were played in the first half of the conference season, that number could inflate. Keep in mind, the cancelled game at College of Charleston will have huge implications on the conference tournament seeding. Currently, the top seven teams in the conference standings are separated by only three games.