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App State loses two of three at Irish Baseball Classic


Appalachian State baseball won its first game of the season in the Irish Baseball Classic in Cary as they defeated Michigan 4-1 but dropped its other two matchups.

Junior right-handed pitcher Jamie Nunn throws a pitch during Friday’s game against Youngstown State in Cary at the second annual Irish Baseball Classic. The Mountaineers lost the game 1-2 after the Penguins scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning. Photo by Corey Spiers | The Appalachian

The Mountaineers fell to Youngstown State 1-2 in their first game Friday and 3-4 in extra innings in its final game against host Notre Dame on Sunday.

The Mountaineers started scoring in the bottom of the third inning against Youngstown State when senior left fielder Tyler Zupcic hit a double down the left field line, bringing home freshman center fielder Brian Bauk.

But App State couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead for long. The Penguins scored two runs in the top of the fourth against junior Mountaineer pitcher Jamie Nunn.

Freshman left fielder Alex Larivee, who was 3-4 for the day, scored one of the runs, and freshman shortstop Shane Willoughby scored the other.
The Penguins held the 2-1 lead for the remainder of the game.

Senior starting pitcher Patrick O’Brien held the Mountaineers scoreless for three more innings before handing the ball to his bullpen. The Youngstown State relievers, senior Alex Frey and freshman Kevin Yarabinec, combined to strike out six Mountaineers and allowed one combined hit in three innings of work to close out the game.

Nunn pitched six innings and was charged with two runs, only one of which was earned but was saddled with the loss. Junior pitcher Taylor Thurber pitched the final three innings of the game and allowed only one Youngstown State hit.

“We couldn’t get anything going offensively,” head coach Billy Jones said. “The positive was [Nunn] and [Thurber] pitched well.”

App State was able to collect its first win of the season in the second game of the tournament as the Mountaineers took advantage of eight strong innings of work from senior pitcher Tyler Moore.

Moore allowed only one earned run on the day, and the Mountaineers were able to build an early lead that was never relinquished as App State went on to defeat Michigan 4-1.
The win over the Wolverines marks the first win for App State baseball over a Big Ten Conference opponent in school history.

The Mountaineers jumped out to an early lead when senior third baseman William Head blasted a double down the right field line with the bases loaded, scoring two runners. Sophomore designated hitter Alex Leach followed with a groundout that scored a run to put App State up 3-0 in the first inning.

Moore puzzled the Wolverines for most of the day as he struck out a career-high six batters. He accomplished his previous high of three strikeouts on three different occasions, including earlier this season against Arkansas.

Moore’s eight-inning outing was also good for a career-high, beating his previous best of seven in 2013 against Western Carolina.

Moore exited the game in the ninth inning after surrendering an unearned run, giving way to junior pitcher Robert Whaley who faced three batters, forcing two of them to pop out and striking out the other to earn his first save of the season.

Head said it was very important to give Moore a lead early in the game.

“He’s got that ability to be great anytime he steps on the mound,” Head said. “We just managed to put a couple runs up early, and I guess that gave him the confidence to get the job done.”

The Mountaineers only committed one error, compared to Michigan’s two.

“I was lucky enough to get some great defense behind me,” Moore said. “We’ve worked hard all fall. This team is much better and more talented than the record shows.”

The Mountaineers failed to win consecutive games in its final outing of the Irish Baseball Classic, as the team fell 3-4 to Notre Dame in 11 innings Sunday.

The Irish grabbed a 1-0 lead when freshman catcher Ryan Lidge singled a run home off junior pitcher Jeffrey Springs.

App State tied the game in the fourth inning when Head singled down the right field line to score sophomore shortstop Dillon Dobson. Sophomore center fielder Jaylin Davis, who did not play against Michigan after injuring his hamstring against Youngstown State, was called upon to pinch hit in the sixth inning and promptly drilled an RBI double to give App State a 2-1 lead.

Junior center fielder Brandon Burris added a home run to deep left field in the ninth inning to extend the Mountaineers’ lead to 3-1, but Notre Dame tied the game with a strong ninth inning of its own.

Sophomore left fielder Zak Kutsulis brought home a run with a deep fly ball to left field and freshman third baseman Kyle Fiala singled home the game-tying run to send the game to extra innings.

The Mountaineers left three runners on base in extra innings and the Irish claimed the win in the bottom of the 11th when Kutsulis singled to score senior catcher Forrest Johnson after he advanced to third on a wild pitch.

The App State bullpen allowed three of Notre Dame’s four runs, spoiling a solid outing from Springs, who allowed only four Irish hits and struck out six batters, but did not get a decision for his efforts.

“Nobody feels sorry for you,” Jones said. “Sometimes this game isn’t a fair game, but you just have to keep fighting and keep playing.”

The Mountaineers will take the field again Wednesday against Campbell on the road. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

Story and Photo: Cory Spiers, Sports Editor

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