Appalachian did not get a good relief effort, dropping its first conference game of the year with a 7-4 loss to Georgia Southern on Friday at the J.I. Clements Baseball Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
After working past 100 pitches, getting the first two outs and placing two men on base by walks, junior Jamie Nunn (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mt. Tabor) was replaced by senior left-hand pitcher Zach Joyce (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) to get a one-out hold with runners at first and second. Joyce only threw nine pitches but was charged with two earned runs on one hit and a run that allowed Georgia Southern to tie the game 4-4.
Freshman right-hand pitcher Sean Mason (Austin, Texas, McNeil) took over for Joyce. Mason gave up a 2-2 single that scored two runs and gave the Eagles a 6-4 lead. The last run came on the expense of Mason also. In the eighth inning, Mason gave up a double to his second batter faced and two wild pitches brought the runner home.
Nunn pitched 6.1 innings, tying his career high in strikeouts with eight. He had eight strikeouts four times in his career and last against Wofford on March 29, 2013. He only issued two walks on the day, proving to tire out and could not finish the inning.
The Mountaineers got on the board first in the game. Senior William Head (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) forced the starting pitcher Sam Howard to throw 12 pitches as the first batter of the game before finally forcing a walk. Senior Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) singled the next pitch up the middle which would advance Head to second and sophomore Dillion Dobson (Hamptonville, N.C./Starmount) sacrifice bunted to move Head over to third and Zupcic to second base. After Jaylin Davis (McLeansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford) grounded out, Pierson hit a ground ball at the first baseman, but the ball rolled under his glove. The error would score Head and Zupcic. Georgia Southern was able to stop the bleeding on a Matt Brill (Coal Valley, Ill/Moline) groundout but the Mountaineers already led 2-0.
Georgia Southern got one back in the third inning. The designated hitter Garren Palmer hit a home run up the right field line that fell right inside the foul pole. The Eagles got its second run in the fifth inning. Third baseman Garrett Chapman doubled to right center and stole third base. Catcher Zach Hummel (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) was forced with the error when he tried to throw Chapman out at third, but the ball skied over Heads head. The bad throw allowed Chapman to score and tied the game 2-2.
Appalachian got those two runs back in the sixth inning. Michael Pierson and Brill both singled. Troutman hit a ball that was just two feet away from a home run and brought both Pierson and Troutman for a two RBI triple.
Senior Preston Troutman led Appalachian on the day with one hit on four tries and two RBI. Pierson, Zupcic and Brill all had a multi-hit game.
Left fielder Stryker Brown and catcher Chase Griffin led the Eagles with two RBI a peace.
Joyce was charged with the loss and moved to 0-1 on the season. Jason Richman got the win for Georgia Southern and moved to 4-0 on the season. Matt McCall got the save.
The Mountaineers will continue its weekend series with Georgia Southern in game two on Saturday with a first pitch time of 2:30 p.m at the J.I Clements Baseball Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
Photo Courtesy: Jamie Nunn, ASU Athletics