Ryan Arrowood (Rutherfordton, N.C./R-S Central) moved into a tie atop Appalachian State University baseball’s all-time wins list by pitching six solid innings in the 28th-ranked Mountaineers’ 8-7 triumph over UNC Greensboro on Friday night at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium. Arrowood (9-0) scattered six hits, allowed just three runs (two earned) and
struck out eight over six innings to earn the 26th win of his career. His 26 victories match the school record set by former teammate Matt Andress from 2007-10. The quest for the record-tying win got off to an inauspicious start for Arrowood, as UNCG’s Bobby Martin led off the game with a triple to right center field. However, Appalachian’s senior ace struck out the next two batters and induced a lazy flyout to right field to work around the leadoff triple and escape the first inning unscathed.
Arrowood found himself in another jam in the second when Greensboro put runners on the corners with one out but he got another big strikeout for the second out of the stanza and stranded both runners with an inning-ending fly ball. From there, Appalachian’s offense took control, as the Mountaineers scored two runs in the third and five in the fifth to stake Arrowood to a commanding 7-1 lead.
Pitching on short rest, Arrowood appeared to tire a bit as he went over the 100-pitch mark in the sixth. UNCG not only took advantage of Arrowood’s fatigue but also a key Mountaineer error — ASU’s first of three on the evening — to push two runs across and cut the deficit to 7-3. But with the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate, Arrowood struck out the final batter he faced to get out of one last jam and leave the ballgame with the four-run lead intact.
Appalachian stretched the lead to 8-3 on Tyler Zupcic’s (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) two-out RBI double in the bottom of the sixth but nearly squandered the entire five-run advantage with more uncharacteristically sloppy defense over the final two innings.
UNCG benefitted from Mountaineer errors in the eighth and ninth innings to plate two runs in each frame and cut the deficit to 8-7. However, with the tying run at second base in the ninth, Appalachian closer Nathan Hyatt (Brevard, N.C./Brevard) sealed the win and his 11th save of the season by striking out Greensboro’s Kris Richards to end the ballgame.
Offensively, Zupcic, Hector Crespo (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) and Trey Holmes (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) had two hits apiece to combine for six of Appalachian’s eight hits. Crespo scored a game-high three runs and Will Callaway (Greenville, S.C./Eastside) recorded two of the Apps’ six RBI.
With its seventh-straight Southern Conference victory, Appalachian (33-10, 17-5 SoCon) extended its lead over idle College of Charleston (31-13, 19-8 SoCon) in the conference standings. Regardless of what the remaining teams still in contention for the SoCon title (CofC, Samford and Elon) do down the stretch, the Mountaineers can clinch no less than a share of its first conference championship in 25 years with five wins in its final nine league games.
UNC Greensboro (21-22, 6-16 SoCon) dipped below .500 for the first time since 2010 with its ninth loss in 12 games. The clubs continue their three-game SoCon series on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Smith Stadium.
NOTES: Appalachian moved to 22-1 at home this season ... the Mountaineers moved into a tie for sixth in the program’s 109-year history with their 33rd victory of the season ... Daniel Kassouf (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) walked twice and reached on an error but was held without a home run for the eighth-straight game and remains one homer short of matching the ASU single-season record of 16 ... however, Kassouf reached base for the 13th-straight game, good for the Mountaineers’ longest current streak ... Noah Holmes (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) reached safely for the ninth-straight game with a hit and two walks ... Tyler Tewell (Charlotte, N.C./Butler) had his 12-game hitting and on-base streak snapped with an 0-for-4 evening ... Arrowood’s nine wins this year are tied for fourth in ASU single-season history ... Hyatt moved into a tie for third in the school’s single-season annals with his 11th save ... Trey Holmes’ ninth-inning error was just his fourth in 425 chances this season and only his eighth in 987 chances as a Mountaineer ... UNCG cleanup hitter Trevor Edwards was ejected for arguing balls and strikes following his ninth-inning strikeout and, per SoCon rules, will serve a one-game suspension on Saturday.
Photo Courtesy: Ryan Arrowood, ASU Athletics