For the second time in three games, Appalachian State University baseball used a late rally to pull within a run but couldnt get over the hump in a 5-3 loss to unbeaten Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon at
Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Appalachian State (0-4) trailed 4-1 after seven innings but plated a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to cut the deficit to 4-3. Dillon Dobson (Hamptonville, N.C./Starmount) sparked the eighth-inning rally with a single and Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) followed with an RBI double to deep center field that drove in Dobson and made it 4-2.
After a Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) walk gave Appalachian runners on first and second with only one out, Alex Leach (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) ripped a line drive down the first-base line for what looked to be a sure double. However, Tennessee first baseman Nathaniel Maggio made what may have been a game-saving play for Tennessee (4-0) when he dove to his left and snagged the liner just inches from the ground for the second out of the inning.
Maggios diving play became even bigger one batter later when William Head (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) looped an RBI single into left center field to drive in Pierson and cut the Vols advantage to 4-3. Had Leachs shot gotten past Maggio for an RBI double one batter earlier, Heads base hit likely would have given the Mountaineers a 5-4 lead.
After Tennessee added an insurance run in the eighth, Appalachian State brought the tying run to the plate with just one out in the top of the ninth. However, UT closer Drake Owenby induced a pair of groundouts to end the game and snap the Mountaineers two-game winning streak over the Vols.
Head paced Appalachians seven-hit attack by going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Dobson hit safely for the fourth-straight game to open the season and finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Pierson and Ozzy Gonzalez (Miami, Fla./South Miami) also drove in runs for the Mountaineers.
Blake Burkett (Cumming, Ga./West Forsyth) allowed four runs over 4.1 innings in the first start of his career to suffer the loss. Right-hander Andy Cox (4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) earned his first win of the season for UT while Owenby worked 1.1 scoreless innings for his second save.
Appalachian State continues its grueling early-season schedule this weekend when it travels to No. 6 NC State for a three-game set. The series opener is slated for Friday at 3 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3.
NOTES: Despite four-straight losses to Southeastern Conference opponents to open the season, Appalachian State has still won six of its last 14 games against SEC clubs, including two of its last three against Tennessee Wednesdays defeat was Appalachians first to UT since a 12-4 loss in Knoxville on March 22, 2008 Dobson is hitting a team-best .353 through four games.
Photo Courtesy: Dillon Dobson, ASU Athletics