Appalachian State University baseball split its annual series with longtime local rival ETSU on Tuesday at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Appalachian State opened the evening by finishing off a 3-1 victory in a game that was suspended in the seventh inning last Wednesday due to rain. In the regularly scheduled series finale between the two clubs, Appalachian squandered a 5-2 seventh-inning lead and fell, 7-6.
Tuesday’s action started in quite unconventional fashion. Appalachian State took its own home field as the visiting team with a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, which is where last Wednesday’s contest at ETSU stood before the rain moved in. Appalachian reliever Josh Wilson (Edgefield, S.C./Strom Thurmond) made the two-run lead stand up, as he retired nine of the 10 batters he faced to close out the win. Wilson did not surrender a hit in three scoreless innings to pick up his second save of the season.
All of the Mountaineers’ offense in the victory came last Wednesday in Johnson City, Tenn. Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest), Josh Zumbrook (Wilkesboro, N.C./West Wilkes) and Noah Holmes (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) had an RBI apiece before play was halted. Six days after he worked three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, Jeffrey Springs (Belmont, N.C./South Point) was credited with the win to move to 2-2 on the campaign.
In the nightcap, Appalachian State (24-17) banged out 10 hits but committed a season-high-tying five errors and left 11 runners on base in the frustrating loss.
Appalachian was in position to sweep the season series from ETSU (25-18) for the first time since 2010 when it plated four unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead. However, the Bucs regrouped during a 42-minute rain delay in the top of the seventh and scored five runs of their own to retake a 7-5 lead.
The Mountaineers committed three of their five errors and reliever Rob Marcello (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./Royal Palm Beach) issued three walks during ETSU’s five-run seventh. Thanks to the Apps’ sloppy play, the Bucs needed only two hits to turn the 5-2 deficit into a 7-5 advantage.
Appalachian threatened to regain the lead in the eighth when it cut the deficit to 7-6 on William Head’s (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) RBI single. The Mountaineer had the tying and go-ahead runs on base with just one out but the opportunity slipped away when Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside) and Jaylin Davis (McLeansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford) struck out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded for the third time in the ballgame.
Highlighted by a two-out, bases-loaded triple in the Mountaineers’ four-run sixth, Head went 3-for-4 with four a career-high-tying four RBI in the nightcap. The junior drove in four runs for the second time in three games, as he also had four RBI in last Friday’s 10-5 win over Samford.
Marcello was tagged for four runs in one-third of an inning to fall to 1-3 on the campaign.
Appalachian State returns to action on Friday when it opens a three-game Southern Conference series versus Elon. Friday’s series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. at Smith Stadium.
NOTES: The clubs only needed 30 minutes to blow through the final two-and-a-half innings of the suspended game ... Callaway extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a third-inning single in the nightcap ... Callaway’s 16-game hitting streak is the longest by a Mountaineer this season and spanned the entire month of April — he hit a gaudy .435 (30-for-69) with six doubles, four home runs, 21 RBI and 19 runs scored during the month ... Hector Crespo (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) went 1-for-4 in both games and has reached base in 20-straight contests, Appalachian State’s longest streak of the campaign.
Photo Courtesy: William Head, ASU Athletics