A record-setting evening by East Tennessee State’s Paul Hoilman proved too much to overcome in Appalachian State University baseball’s 5-3 loss to ETSU on Wednesday evening at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Hoilman almost single-handedly led ETSU (28-15) past Appalachian (26-19) by driving in three of the Bucs’ five runs with an RBI double in the fourth inning and a two-run homer in the sixth. In the process, the 6-4, 230-pound senior tied the Atlantic Sun Conference record with the 79th career double and became East Tennessee State’s all-time hits leader with the sixth-inning homer, which was the 291st hit of his career.
Hoilman and Bo Reeder combined for four of the Bucs’ seven hits and scored four of their five runs. Both sluggers went 2-for-4 and scored two runs apiece.
Reeder and Hoilman opened the scoring in the top of the fourth inning when Reeder led off the frame with a single through the right side and Hoilman followed with a sinking double to left field that skidded past a diving Jack Myers (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) and went all the way to the wall, allowing Reeder to score from first to make it 1-0. Three batters later, Hoilman scored on Kerry Doane’s sacrifice fly to center field to stretch ETSU’s advantage to 2-0.
ASU bounced back to knot the score at 2-2 on Zack Briggs’ (Lexington, N.C./Central Davidson) RBI single in the bottom of the fourth and Jeremy Dowdy’s (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) RBI groundout in the fifth. Myers manufactured the Mountaineers’ first run when he laced a one-out single up the middle, stole second and scored on Briggs’ line drive to center. Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside) scored the tying run after leading off the fifth with a triple to straightaway center field.
However, Reeder and Hoilman struck again in the sixth when Reeder led off the stanza with a double to right center and Hoilman launched a two-run blast to left center that gave the Bucs the lead for good at 4-2. ETSU added an insurance run in the seventh to stretch the advantage to 5-2.
Despite facing a three-run deficit going into their last at-bat, the Mountaineers made it interesting in the ninth. Daniel Kassouf (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) led off the stanza by driving an 0-2 pitch from Reeder, who doubles as the Bucs’ closer, through the left side of the infield. After a pair of strikeouts, Callaway’s slicing two-out single got past ETSU right fielder Andrew Green and bounced into the right field corner, allowing pinch runner Doug Jones (Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg) to score all the way from first and Callaway to advance to third. But with the tying run at the plate, Reeder induced a game-ending groundout to earn his 15th save of the year.
Aside from Hoilman and Reeder, the offensive stories of the night were Myers and Hector Crespo (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian), who extended their hitting streaks to 15 and 10 games, respectively. Myers went 1-for-4 to match ASU’s longest hitting streak of the season but was robbed of a potential game-changing home run when ETSU left fielder Cory Betterson went high over the left field wall to pull back a blast off Myers’ bat in the sixth. Crespo went 1-for-3 to join Myers and Briggs as the only Mountaineers with double-digit hitting streaks this season.
Briggs led all hitters with three hits on the evening.
Seven Appalachian pitchers combined to limit ETSU’s high-powered offense to just seven hits, well below their average of nearly 11 per game. Seth Grant (Etowah, N.C./West Henderson) surrendered all four hits to Hoilman and Reeder to suffer the loss and fall to 4-6 on the campaign.
ASU now sets its sights on this weekend’s three-game Southern Conference series versus archrival Western Carolina. The unorthodox Saturday-Monday series begins on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Smith Stadium. Radio coverage on AM 1450, WATA begins at 5:40 pm Saturday evening.