Fueled by a nine-run fifth inning, Appalachian State University baseball rolled to its 10th-straight win, a 16-3 rout over Davidson on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium. Appalachian (12-2, 2-0 SoCon) scored in double-digits for the fifth time in six games to reach 10 victories in a row for the first time
since it won its first 10 games of the 2010 season. With the triumph, ASU also clinched this weekend’s three-game series versus Davidson (4-8, 0-2 SoCon), marking the first time since 1999 that the Mountaineers have won their initial Southern Conference series of the season. Unlike the majority of its recent games, Appalachian appeared to be in store for a close affair on Saturday, as it led just 4-3 midway through the contest. However, the Mountaineers exploded for their second nine-run inning of the week in the fifth to turn the tight ballgame into a romp.
Thanks to five walks and a hit batter, ASU needed just three hits to put the nine-spot on the board in the fifth. Cleanup hitter Daniel Kassouf (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) provided two of three hits in the frame, an RBI single that opened the scoring and a towering grand slam to left field that capped the nine-run explosion and gave the Mountaineers a commanding 13-3 advantage. Hector Crespo (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) delivered the only other hit in the stanza with a three-run double to left.
From there, the only real question remaining was whether starting pitcher Seth Grant (Etowah, N.C./West Henderson) would toss a complete game. The right-handed senior wound up working eight strong innings, allowing just three runs on five hits while striking out five and walking only one. Despite throwing only 97 pitches in the efficient victory, Grant (2-1) came out of the ballgame after the Mountaineers scored three runs in the eighth to stretch their lead to 16-3.
Like in Friday’s 10-4 series-opening triumph over Davidson, the top of the batting order led the way for ASU on Saturday. The Apps’ first four hitters (Crespo, Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence), Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside) and Kassouf) all had multiple hits for the second-straight day, combining to go 8-for-17 with four walks, nine RBI and 10 runs scored. Also for the second-straight day, 8-of-9 starters had hits in the Mountaineers’ 14-hit outburst.
Forrest Brandt had two of Davidson’s six hits while pitcher Brian Russell (1-1) was tagged for seven runs in four innings to suffer the loss. Appalachian goes for the series sweep on Sunday when it hosts the finale of the three-game set at 1 p.m.
NOTES: As of 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Appalachian is one of only 10 NCAA Division I teams with a double-digit winning streak this season (joining Kentucky, Florida, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Maryland, Oregon, USC Upstate, Mercer and Richmond — South Carolina and Rice can join the list by extending their current winning streaks to 10 with victories later on Saturday) ... ASU is hitting .363 as a team and averaging 12.1 runs per game during its current seven-game homestand ... the Mountaineers still haven’t allowed more than four runs in a game this season, more than doubling the previous school record for consecutive games to start a campaign without surrendering five runs in any contest (the previous record of six was established last year) ... ASU beat Davidson for the ninth-consecutive time and has won all eight games it has ever played against the Wildcats at Smith Stadium ... Kassouf recorded multiple hits for the seventh time in nine games ... Kassouf and Zupcic both extended their hitting streaks to seven games, ASU’s longest streaks of the season ... Kassouf is hitting .531 (17-for-32) and Zupcic is hitting .433 (13-for-30) during their respective seven-game hitting streaks ... Jeremy Dowdy (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) has reached base safely in all 13 games he has played this season ... Tyler Tewell (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) has reached safely in 10-straight games while Zupcic and Callaway have gotten aboard in nine-consecutive contests.
Photo Courtesy: Daniel Kassouf, ASU Athletics