A three-run triple by Campbell’s Steven Leonard in the top of the eighth inning proved to be the difference in Appalachian State University baseball’s 8-4 loss to the Camels on Wednesday evening at BB&T Ballpark.


Appalachian State (1-11) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning but Campbell (10-3) slowly chipped away at the lead with single runs in the second, third and fifth innings that sliced the Mountaineer advantage to 4-3.


Appalachian was still clinging to the one-run lead in the eighth when Campbell benefitted from a leadoff double, an error and an intentional walk to load the bases with one out. The Mountaineers brought on closer Robert Whaley (Hickory, N.C./Hickory) to get out of the jam but Leonard ripped the second pitch from Whaley into the gap in right center field to clear the bases and give the Camels their first lead of the game at 7-4. One batter later, Leonard came home on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-4.


After getting two hits against Campbell reliever Ryan Thompson in the bottom of the seventh, App State managed just one baserunner against the right-hander over the final two frames, including going down in order in the ninth to end the game.


Appalachian State banged out a season-high 11 hits in the loss, including three in its four-run first inning. However, the Mountaineers could not push any more runs across, due in large part to going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position over the final eight stanzas


Dillon Dobson (Hamptonville, N.C./Starmount) led the Apps’ 11-hit attack, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. The four hits matched the sophomore’s career high. Freshman Matt Brill (Coal Valley, Ill/Moline) chipped in with a career-best two hits.


Making the first start of his career, freshman Sean Mason (Austin, Texas/McNeil) struck out five and allowed three runs over five innings but did not figure in the decision. Taylor Thurber (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) was saddled with four runs (three earned) in one inning of relief to suffer the loss and fall to 0-2.


Thompson (2-0) struck out five over three scoreless innings to earn the win out of the bullpen. Campbell was led offensively by center fielder Matt Nadolski, who rebounded from a making a pivotal error in the Mountaineers’ four-run first inning to collect three of the Camels’ eight hits.


Sloppy defense plagued Appalachian State once again on Wednesday night, as the Mountaineers made three errors. Appalachian, which has led the Southern Conference in fielding each of the last two seasons, has committed 23 errors over the last eight games. During that stretch, it has had three or more miscues in five different games.


After 12-straight games away from home to open the season, Appalachian State returns to the friendly confines of Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium this weekend when it hosts a three-game series against UNC Asheville. The 2014 home opener is set for Friday at 4 p.m.



Photo Courtesy: Dillon Dobson, ASU Athletics