Appalachian State University pitchers issued walks to five of North Carolina’s first six batters of the game and never recovered in a 12-1 loss to the 22nd-ranked Tar Heels on Tuesday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.



The first two innings were disastrous for Appalachian State (0-8). The game began with the Mountaineers loading the bases in the top of the first only to not push any runs across, which proved to be an omen for what was to come in the next inning-and-a-half.



In the bottom of the first, Appalachian starter Blake Burkett (Cumming, Ga./West Forsyth) missed the strike zone on 16 of the 23 pitches he threw and walked four of five batters he faced, with the only Tar Heel hitter that he didn’t walk reaching on an error. After Burkett exited the game, reliever Payton Smith (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) walked his first batter on four pitches then allowed a sacrifice fly, a single and a double. Smith struck out two to get out of the inning but not before North Carolina (4-3) had taken a commanding 6-0 lead.



In the second inning, it was Appalachian’s defense that faltered, as the Mountaineers committed three more errors that led to three unearned runs and stretched UNC’s lead to 9-0.



Appalachian got on the board in the third on a two-out RBI single by Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) but North Carolina plated one run in the third and two in the eighth to close out the scoring.



Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) had two of Appalachian State’s five hits while Dallas DeVrieze (Moline, N.C./Moline) highlighted an overall strong showing by Appalachian’s bullpen with four innings of no-hit relief. The left-handed freshman struck out four and walked one.



No. 9 hitter Joe Dudek had two of North Carolina’s nine hits while he, Parks Jordan, Tom Zengel and Korey Dunbar drove in two runs apiece. UNC starting pitcher Luis Paula (1-0) struck out five and allowed just three hits over 4.2 innings to earn the win.



Appalachian State returns to the Triangle for the third time in a week on Friday when it travels to Cary, N.C. to participate in Notre Dame’s Irish Baseball Classic at the USA Baseball Complex. Appalachian plays the first of its three games at the tournament versus Youngstown State on Friday at 2 p.m.



NOTES: Seven of Appalachian State’s eight games have come against nationally ranked opponents … Appalachian committed at least four errors for the third time in four games … prior to last Friday, the Mountaineers had not committed more than one error in any of their first four games of the season … despite dropping its 14th-straight game at the hands of North Carolina, Appalachian State still boasts four wins in its last nine games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.



Photo Courtesy: Tyler Zupcic, ASU Athletics