Appalachian hosts a critical series this weekend in a situation where a sweep is a almost a must if they want to win the regular season SoCon title. The Mountaineers have been flawless at home this season, with a sparkling 21-1 record. On the other hand, The Spartans are 2-10 on the road in conference play. Hopefully, the home stand can help Will Callaway get out of his slump. Callaway was batting over .400 earlier this season and has seen his average drop to .359. Pitchers Ryan Arrowood and Seth Grant will hit the mound for the last home start in their careers. Arrowood has several ASU records on the horizon, including all time wins and strikeouts. Daniel Kassouf will look to break the Appalachian all time home run record this weekend as well. Kassouf is one round tripper away from tying the school record. On the other hand, The Spartans are 2-10 on the road in conference play. Greensboro’s Trevor Edwards is the key to their offense. Edwards had 13 home runs a 31 RBI. UNCG has five batters with at least 46 or more hits, but there is a significant drop off after that. UNCG starting pitchers are below, but neither have pitched a majority of games in any weekend spot. It is likely you will see them all, but predicting who will pitch on any given day is a crapshoot at best.
ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (8-0, 3.84) vs UNCG Fr. RHP Max Povse (2-3, 5.17)
For the first time in two weeks, Ryan Arrowood (9-0) had to work on one less day of rest, and had to respond after a long performance against Wofford last weekend where he threw 122 pitches. Arrowood left the game against the Spartans with a five run lead, where he hit the century mark in pitches for the second consecutive start. Arrowood struck out eight batters while walking three batters.
However, Greensboro was able to climb back into the contest on Mountaineer errors. Errors in the eighth and ninth innings scored four runs, with only one run being earned. Fielding has been a concern all season, and the Mountaineers are not the same team when they are putting up two or more errors in a game. However, Nathan Hyatt was able to calm down and eventually record his 11th save of the season by striking out the side in the ninth. A total of three errors were committed by Appalachian on the evening, giving up a total of four unearned runs.
Five Mountaineers recorded eight hits, with multi-hit efforts coming from Hector Crespo, Tyler Zupcic and Trey Holmes. For the first time in a long time, the heart of the Mountaineer order, Will Callaway, Daniel Kassouf and Tyler Tewell went hitless on the night, but did record three RBI and two walks.
ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (6-2, 3.34) vs. UNCG So. LHP Dylan Hathcock (3-4, 3.72 ERA)
In most likely his last home start, Seth Grant did not disappoint. The senior went six innings and kept Greensboro off the scoreboard. Grant’s performance was not pretty as he allowed nine Greensboro hits on 110 pitches. However, it was the Appalachian bullpen that once again provided another underwhelming performance. A bad week for Jamie Nunn got worse when he gave up a two run home run in the eighth inning that allowed Greensboro to cut the Mountaineers lead to one run. Nathan Hyatt entered in the ninth and gave up the tying run with a four pitch walk. Tyler Moore struck out his only batter to give way to the Mountaineer bats in the bottom of the ninth.
Appalachian could not have asked for a better situation in the bottom of the ninth. Greensboro changed pitchers to a former starter who had been relegated to the bullpen late in the season. Daniel Kassouf was the first batter. Kassouf flinched on a knee high pitch that was called a ball. The next pitch was right where Kassouf wanted it. He hammered it over the left center field fence for the 5-4 walkoff win, which also gave Kassouf his 16th home run of the season, which tied the Appalachian all time single season record.
After suffering an eight pitch loss on Tuesday, Tyler Moore got the five pitch win on Saturday to up his record to 3-1 on the season. The teams combined for 27 hits, but only nine runs for the game. Both teams combined for leaving twenty-three runners on base. Every Mountaineer that picked up the bat recorded a hit with Tyler Zupcic leading the charge with three hits. Preston Troutman and Tyler Tewell also picked up two hits each.
ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (6-3, 3.66) vs UNCG Fr. RHP Lee Gilliam (2-2, 2.88 ERA)
Appalachian jumped out to a 7-1 lead through four innings and appeared it would cruise the rest of the day on its way to a sweep of Greensboro. In the fifth inning, the screws came loose and it fell apart the Appalachian pitching staff. Greensboro scored seven runs in the fifth and six innings and took a 8-7 lead with Appalachian down to its final twelve outs.
The Mountaineers were able to tie it in the seventh, but Greensboro once again answered. With two outs, a lazy ball was hit into right field. Tyler Tewell was not able to get a good jump on the ball, and it landed in front of him and then bounced over his head to give the Spartans the lead. The next batter drove in another run for Greensboro, which provided the final score of 10-8 in favor of the Spartans. Appalachian was able to get runners on in the eighth and ninth innings, but had double plays in both frames kill any chance for a rally. It was a disappointing loss, that will leave a bad taste in the players mouth while they head to exams this week, and will not play again until a doubleheader on Saturday at Samford.
At this point in the season, Appalachian controls its own destiny for a regular season conference championship, but also could finish as low as fourth place. Play this weekend will go a long way in determining the seeding for the conference tournament. Currently, Appalachian would face Furman in the first round, but that is not a certainty either. Only the top four teams are guaranteed spots in the tournament at this time.