Daniel Kassouf (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) and Trey Holmes (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) homered to spark a five-run seventh inning that lifted No. 30 Appalachian State University baseball to an 8-6 victory over visiting College of Charleston in the opener of a pivotal Southern Conference series on Friday evening at
Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium. With the victory, first-place Appalachian (23-5, 8-2 SoCon) stretched its lead over second-place College of Charleston (21-10, 11-5 SoCon) in the SoCon standings (.800-.688). Elon, which came into the evening tied for second place with CofC, also lost on Friday night, 18-2 at Furman.
Thanks to a couple of key errors by the usually sure-handed Holmes at first base, Charleston scored two unearned runs in the second inning and two more in the third to take an early 4-0 lead. The Mountaineers put single runs on the board in the third and fifth innings to draw within two at 4-2 before taking their first lead of the ballgame with the five-run seventh. Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) got the seventh-inning rally started when he was hit by a pitch for the second of three times on the evening. Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside) followed with his third hit of the night, a single to left field, to set the stage for Kassouf, who ripped the first pitch from CofC southpaw Josh Renfro (4-3) for a line-drive home run to nearly straight-away center field that gave the Apps their first lead of the evening at 5-4. The three-run blast was Kassouf’s team-leading 11th of the season.
Jeremy Dowdy (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield) kept the big inning alive for Appalachian with a two-out double down the left field line and Holmes followed by atoning for his early miscues in the field with a towering home run to right center field. Holmes’ fourth bomb in his last three games capped ASU’s five-run seventh and gave the Mountaineers a 7-4 cushion.
The clubs swapped runs in the eighth inning before closer Nathan Hyatt (Brevard, N.C./Brevard) shut the door in the ninth to seal the victory. Hyatt, who is a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities this season, made it interesting by walking two and allowing an RBI single. However, with the tying run on first base, got leadoff hitter Bradley Goodson to harmlessly tap back to the mound for the final out of the ballgame. After battling through a mechanical issue for the better part of the last month, ASU right-hander Ryan Arrowood (Rutherfordton, N.C./R-S Central) turned in his best performance since he was named National Pitcher of the Week following a 1-0 win at No. 7 LSU on Feb. 25. The senior ace did not surrender an earned run over seven strong innings, allowing just four hits while striking out seven to move to 5-0 on the campaign. After College of Charleston plated the last of their four unearned runs in the third inning, Arrowood retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced, including 11 in a row to close out the impressive outing.
Besides Kassouf’s and Holmes’ big home runs, the story of the night for the Mountaineers at the plate was Callaway. The senior shortstop went 3-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. He is hitting a gaudy .467 (35-for-75) during the 19-game hitting streak, which is tied for Appalachian’s longest of the season and just eight games shy of the school record of 27, set by Rand Smith in 2009. Callaway also upped his season batting average to a team-best .418 with his 16th multi-hit performance of the campaign.
Appalachian, which has won five in a row and is 16-0 at home this season, looks to keep the momentum going on Saturday in the second game of the three-game weekend series versus Charleston. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Smith Stadium.
NOTES: The victory was Appalachian’s first in 13 all-time home games versus College of Charleston ... in their only previous visits to Boone, the Cougars swept three-game series in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 ... Appalachian’s 16-game home winning streak stands alone as the third-longest active home winning streak in NCAA Division I, behind only Dartmouth (26-straight home wins) and Kentucky (21) ... ASU’s 23-5 record is tied for the second-best mark after 28 games in the program’s 109-year history ... only the 1984 Mountaineers (24-4) had a better 28-game record ... in addition to the 19-game hitting streak, Callaway has reached base in 23-consecutive games ... Zupcic has also reached safely in 23-straight games while Dowdy and Kassouf have reached base 11 games in a row ... Dowdy has gotten aboard safely in 26 of the 27 games he has played this year.
Photo Courtesy: Trey Holmes, ASU Athletics