True freshman Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) beat out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to drive in the winning run of Appalachian State University
baseball’s 5-4 victory over Davidson on Sunday afternoon at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
With the triumph, Appalachian (13-2, 3-0 SoCon) extended its winning streak to 11 games and swept its first Southern Conference series of the season, marking the first time in 16 years that ASU has achieved either feat.
The Mountaineers squandered a 4-1 lead in the ninth to send the game to extra innings but with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Pierson hit a high chopper to the left side of the pitcher’s mound. Davidson shortstop Andrew Barna charged the ball and made a bare-handed grab-and-throw to first but it was not in time to get the speedy Pierson. Trey Holmes (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan), who started ASU’s 10th-inning rally with a one-out single, scored easily from third with the winning run.
The extra-inning triumph was keyed by late-game subs. In addition to Pierson, who went 2-for-2 with a run scored and the game-winning RBI after he came in the ballgame as a pinch-runner in the eighth, left fielder Preston Troutman (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) and winning pitcher Tyler Moore (Banner Elk, N.C./Watauga) also played key roles after entering the contest in the ninth.
Appalachian likely would not have had a chance to win the game in extra frames if it weren’t for Troutman making perhaps the club’s defensive play of the year in the ninth. With the score knotted at 4-4 and runners on first and second, Davidson’s Michael Zeblo slapped a single through the left side of the infield. Moving on contact, DC’s Forrest Brandt attempted to score the go-ahead run from second but Troutman fielded the hit cleanly and made a perfect throw to the plate that beat Brandt by several feet. Catcher Jeremy Dowdy (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) applied the tag to maintain the tied score.
Moore (2-0), who came on in relief of ASU closer Nathan Hyatt (Brevard, N.C./Brevard) with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth, worked two scoreless innings to earn the win. The right-handed junior was particularly impressive in the 10th inning when he worked around a two-out hit and walk to keep the Wildcats off the board and set up Pierson’s heroics in the bottom of the stanza.
Despite not entering the ballgame until the eighth inning, Pierson was the only Mountaineer with multiple hits on Sunday. However, senior Daniel Kassouf (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) and junior Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) both contributed to Appalachian’s nine-hit effort and extended their hitting streaks to eight games. Dowdy also had a hit and walked twice to reach base safely for the 14th time in his 14 contest this season.
No. 9 hitter Daniel Gerow went 4-for-5 and Brandt had two RBI to lead Davidson (4-9, 0-3 SoCon). Relief pitcher Jip Richards (0-1) walked four and allowed two hits in 1.2 innings to suffer the loss.
Appalachian now sets its sights on two big non-conference road games this week. The Mountaineers travel to face Duke for the second time in seven days on Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park before visiting two-time-defending national champion South Carolina on Wednesday. Tuesday’s contest at Duke begins at 3 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. first pitch for Wednesday’s matchup at USC.
NOTES: Appalachian’s 11-game winning streak is its longest since it also won 11-straight games in 1996 ... ASU also had not swept its first conference series of the year since ‘96, when it won all three games at Davidson ... for the 15th-consecutive time to start this season, the Mountaineers surrendered four runs or less, continuing to add to their school record ... the previous school record for consecutive games to start a campaign without surrendering five runs in any contest was six, established last year ... the extra-inning affair was Appalachian’s first of the season ... the Mountaineers played two extra-inning games last year, falling to High Point, 6-5, in 10 innings on May 11 and defeating Davidson, 3-1, in 12 innings on April 21.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Pierson, ASU Athletics