In the bottom of the ninth inning, Appalachian State senior right-hander Tyler Moore (Banner Elk, N.C./Watauga) appeared to be on his way to the Southern Conferences first complete-game shutout of the season, skipping over third-base line and taking the mound with a 4-0 lead. After Michigans Harrison Wenson led off the ninth with a single to center field, Kendall Patrick followed with another single to center. However, Patricks single skipped past Appalachian true freshman center fielder Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./ Salisbury), who was filling in for usual starter Jaylin Davis, and allowed Wenson to come all the way home from first to break up the shutout.
With the shutout chance scuttled, head coach Billy Jones lifted Moore from the game in favor of closer Robert Whaley (Hickory, N.C./ Hickory). Whaley easily retired the three batters he faced on two popouts and a strikeout to seal the win and his first save as a Mountaineer.
Moore set career highs with 8.0 innings pitched and six strikeouts. The 8.0 innings topped his previous career high of 7.0, which he came out of the bullpen to throw in a 15-4 win over No. 29 Western Carolina at 2013 Southern Conference Tournament. His six strikeouts doubled his previous career high of three, which he accomplished three times, including two weeks ago at No. 25 Arkansas.
Despite a nine-game skid to open the season, a confident Appalachian squad had a big first inning. After a leadoff groundout, sophomore Dillon Dobson (Hamptonville, N.C./Starmount) reached on a fielding error, senior Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) singled and junior Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) walked to load the bases with only one out. Senior William Head (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) followed with the innings big hit, a double down the right field line that brought both Dobson and Zupcic home to give the Apps the 2-0 early lead.
Sophomore Alex Leach (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) followed with a groundout to second base but that brought Pierson home for the Mountaineers third run. Leachs first RBI of the season came exactly one year after he recorded his last RBI in a 4-1 win over Davidson on March 1, 2013. Leach missed the final 41 games of last season due to a severe head injury.
App State got an insurance run in the top of the ninth by way of two hits, a one-out single through the left side of the infield by Ozzy Gonzalez (Miami, Fla./South Miami)and an RBI single to right center by senior Preston Troutman (rockwell, N.C./Lake Norman) that brought Gonzalez home with the Mountaineers fourth and final run.
Head led the Moutaineers with two RBI and Zupcic accounted for two of Appalachians seven hits.
Senior LHP Logan McAnallen suffered the loss for Michigan (2-7-1), despite allowing just one earned run over six innings of work and striking out eight. Wenson went 2-for-3 with a run scored to pace the Wolverines offensively..
The Mountaineers play their final game of the USA Baseball-Irish Classic on Sunday against host team, Notre Dame. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary.
NOTES: Moore is the only SoCon starter this season to pitch into the ninth inning ... the win was Appalachian States first-ever over a Big Ten opponent ... Appalachian is now 1-2 all-time against Big Ten clubs (Ohio State swept a two-game series from the Montaineers in 1995) ... the win was Appalachians ninth over a program from a power conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC) since the beginning of 2012 ... App States last defeated a power-conference club on March 13 of last season, an 8-5 win at Georgia.
Photo Courtesy: Tyler Moore, ASU Athletics