Seth Grant (Etowah, N.C./Wes Henderson) tossed the second complete-game shutout of his career to lead Appalachian State University baseball to a 5-0 win over Elon on Saturday afternoon at Latham Park. Grant needed just 117 pitches to even the three-game Southern Conference series at a game apiece and keep
Appalachian (18-4, 7-1 SoCon) atop the SoCon standings. The victory was ASU’s first over Elon since May 1, 2008 and snapped the Mountaineers’ nine-game losing streak to the Phoenix.
The afternoon actually got off to a shaky start for Grant, as Elon put runners on first and second base with just one out in the bottom of the first inning. However, the right-handed senior got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts and went on to retire 11 batters in a row. By the time another Phoenix hitter reached base, Appalachian had already scored the only run it would need on Trey Holmes’ (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) two-out RBI single in the fourth.
Daniel Kassouf (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) led off the eighth with his SoCon-leading 10th home run of the season, a towering solo shot to straightaway center field that stretched ASU’s advantage to 2-0. Kassouf’s fifth homer in the last five games soared high over the center field wall 385 feet away from home plate and almost cleared a 30-foot-high batter’s eye beyond the fence.
The Mountaineers used another two-out rally to tack on three insurance runs in the ninth. Tyler Tewell (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) delivered the big blow with a two-run double to right-center field and came around to score on Jeremy Dowdy’s (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) triple to left. With a 5-0 lead in hand, Grant easily dispatched the Phoenix in the ninth to finish off the shutout. The complete-game whitewashing was ASU’s first since Grant also blanked Furman 5-0 in last year’s SoCon Tournament.
Less than 24 hours after Appalachian allowed a season-high 10 runs in a 10-8 series-opening loss, Grant retired 25 of the 31 batters he faced in the complete-game gem. He pitched to soft contact all afternoon and allowed five hits, issued only one walk and struck out four while upping his record to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.22.
Tewell and Hector Crespo (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) led the Mountaineers’ 11-hit attack with two apiece.
Appalachian goes for its second-ever SoCon series victory over Elon when the clubs play the rubber-game of their three-game set on Sunday. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Latham Park.
NOTES: Grant now owns two of the three complete-game shutouts compiled by current Appalachian pitchers in their careers (Ryan Arrowood blanked Samford, 4-0, on April 15 of last season) ... Grant threw 26 pitches in the first inning but need just 91 to work the final eight stanzas (11.4 per inning) ... Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) extended his ASU-season-best hitting streak to 15 games with a bunt single in the fourth inning while Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside) upped his hitting streak to 13 games with a bunt single in the sixth ... ASU scored four of Saturday’s five runs with two outs ... the Mountaineers have plated 11 of their 13 runs this weekend with two outs and a whopping 71 of their 157 RBI this season (45.2 percent) have come with two away ... Appalachian’s only series victory over Elon since the Phoenix joined the SoCon in 2003-04 came in 2008, when ASU won the final two games of a three-game set at Latham Park ... Saturday’s victory ensured that the Mountaineers wouldn’t suffer their seventh sweep in nine SoCon series against Elon ... Elon announced that RHP David Whitehead (0-2, 5.16 ERA) will start Sunday’s series finale opposite Appalachian southpaw Rob Marcello (3-0, 1.82 ERA).
Photo Courtesy: Seth Grant, ASU Athletics