Appalachian State (15-24) trailed 4-0 after two innings but rallied to take a 5-4 lead with five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Tyler Zupcic (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) kick-started the five-run fourth with a leadoff double and came around to score the Mountaineers first run on an error. Matt Brill (Coal Valley, Ill./Moline) provided the biggest hit of the stanza with a two-run double and William Head (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) and Zach Hummel (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) added two-out RBI singles to give Appalachian its first lead.
Gardner-Webb regained a 6-5 advantage with two runs in the top of the sixth but App State answered with a single tally in the bottom of the inning to knot the score at 6-6. Brill led off the Mountaineers half of the sixth with his second double of the ballgame and scored the tying run three pitches later when Bradley Morton (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mount Tabor) brought him home with an RBI single.
However, the game would not remain deadlocked for long as G-W took an 8-6 lead with two runs in the seventh and stretched the advantage to 10-6 with two more in the eighth. In all, three different Appalachian State relievers surrendered two runs apiece to allow the Bulldogs to pull away. Taylor Thurber (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) was responsible for both runs in the seventh and fell to 0-6 on the season.
Appalachian pounded out 11 hits in the loss. Brill, Morton, Head and Preston Troutman (Rockwell, N.C./East Rowan) led the 11-hit effort with two apiece.
Gardner-Webb catcher Collin Thacker, who came into the evening hitting just .111 with no RBI on the season, went 1-for-4 and drove in three runs to pace the Bulldogs. Andrew Massey (1-2) earned the win with 2.2 innings of one-hit relief.
Appalachian State (8-6 SoCon) continues a five-game homestand this weekend when it hosts a pivotal three-game Southern Conference series versus first-place Davidson (23-11, 13-3 SoCon). Game times are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Smith Stadium.
NOTES: After going hitless in 12 at-bats following the end of his Appalachian State season-best 15-game hitting streak last week, Brill has broken out of the mini-slump in a big way with five hits (including two double), three RBI and three runs scored over the last two games ... Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) went 0-for-3 and was hit by pitches twice on Wednesday night to snap his 11-game hitting streak ... Appalachians bullpen ERA ballooned to 4.82 for the season and 5.30 since March 1 ... by comparison, App States starters ERA is 4.04 on the season and 3.52 since March 1 ... the Mountaineers fell to 7-3 in their last 10 games against Gardner-Webb.
Photo Courtesy: Matt Brill, App State Athletics