Appalachian State takes weekend series over The Citadel


(Above) Sophomore infielder Michael Pierson slides into first base after attempting to steal second during the second inning of Friday’s game against The Citadel. Photo by Joshua Kincaid | The Appalachian

Ben Cogsdale

Appalachian State baseball hosted Southern Conference rival The Citadel in a three-game weekend series that saw the Mountaineers drop the first game, but rally to take the final two and win the series.

The series win is the third Southern Conference series win for App State this season.

(Above) Sophomore infielder Michael Pierson slides into first base after attempting to steal second during the second inning of Friday’s game against The Citadel.   Photo by Joshua Kincaid  |  The Appalachian
(Above) Sophomore infielder Michael Pierson slides into first base after attempting to steal second during the second inning of Friday’s game against The Citadel. Photo by Joshua Kincaid | The Appalachian

Game one
The Bulldogs opened the scoring when junior designated hitter Bo Thompson smacked a solo home run to left field off of App State junior right-handed pitcher Jamie Nunn to give The Citadel a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

App State quickly responded when sophomore first baseman Alex Leach tied the game at one in the bottom of the second inning when he sent a slow ground ball into right field, scoring junior third baseman Michael Pierson.

The Mountaineers had a chance to continue the scoring in the second inning when senior shortstop William Head walked to load the bases with one out, but sophomore catcher Zach Hummel struck out and freshman left fielder Tyler Stroup flew out to left field to end the inning.

The Bulldogs quickly regained the lead after loading the bases in the third inning and watching Nunn walk home a run before senior right fielder Tyler Griffin drilled a two-RBI single into right field to give The Citadel a 4-1 lead.

Senior right fielder Preston Troutman made a diving grab for the second out of the third inning, but a runner still tagged up and scored from third, increasing the Bulldog lead to 5-1.
Freshman designated hitter Matt Brill extended his hitting streak to a team-high 13 games with an RBI-single to left field that scored senior second baseman Tyler Zupcic, who doubled earlier in the third inning, to cut The Citadel lead to 5-2.

The Citadel started to pull away after adding to its lead in the fourth inning when senior left fielder Drew DeKerlegand roped an RBI-single into center field, scoring a runner from second base. The Bulldogs continued the scoring when junior shortstop Johnathan Stokes drove in two runners with a single to right field to increase the Bulldog lead to 8-2.

In the fifth inning, the Mountaineers loaded the bases with one out for the second time of the game. But App State was again unable to capitalize as Leach struck out swinging, and Head grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Hummel got the crowd back into the game when he tripled to deep centerfield to start the sixth inning. But the Mountaineers were again stifled before they could score as Troutman popped out into foul territory, and Zupcic grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Mountaineers were held without a run for the final six innings of the game as senior left-handed pitcher Logan Cribb completed the game, allowing 10 hits, two runs and striking out four App State batters.

“You have to take your hats off to [Cribb],” head coach Billy Jones said. “We put him on the ropes, and he was still able to make big pitches.”

Sophomore center fielder Jaylin Davis amassed a team-high three hits on the day and did not strike out.

Davis said the offense struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities, allowing the Bulldogs to pull away.

“I’ve been struggling early, so I feel this is getting me back on track,” Davis said. “[As a team] we got some hits, but we were hitting the ball right at people.”

Game two
Senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Moore pitched his third complete game of the season for the Mountaineers in the second game of the weekend series Saturday afternoon in a 6-5 win.

Pierson led the way for App State as he collected four hits and four RBIs.

“I stayed with the proper approach today and I was able to have good quality at bats,” Pierson said.

Both clubs plated runs in the bottom of the first and top of the third. The Citadel scored two more for a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth.

After scratching across two in the bottom of the fifth, the Mountaineers struck again in the bottom of the seventh.

Zupcic led the seventh inning off with a four pitch walk.

Pierson stepped in the box in the proceeding at bat and lined a ball into the left-centerfield gap. The triple for Pierson chased Zupcic home, tying the game and giving Pierson one of his four RBIs on the afternoon.

Two batters later, Davis lifted a shallow sacrifice fly to the outfield. Appalachian tied the game on heads up base running by Pierson, who tagged up at third and slid head first at the plate to narrowly beat the throw from right field.

The Mountaineers took a 6-5 lead into the top of the eighth and put the game in Moore’s hands.

Moore pitched around some trouble in the eighth aided by a double play and closed the game out in the top of the ninth. The win moves Moore’s record to 7-2 on the season.

“I’ve been able to settle into the starter role and had some good run support in my outings,” Moore said.

Jones said he credited Moore and the Mountaineers’ experience in close games.

To go along with Pierson’s four hit performance, Troutman and Brill added two hits each. Brill extended his hit streak to 14 games.

Game three
In the final game of the series, the Mountaineers took control early, driving in five runs in the first inning and holding on to win 10-6.

The Citadel gained an early run in the top of the first inning as DeKerlegand scored off of a single from Griffin.

The Mountaineers responded in the bottom of the first inning when freshman left fielder Brian Bauk guided a single to center field, and senior right fielder Preston Troutman sliced an RBI-triple to bring in Bauk to tie the game at one.

Another single to left field by Zupcic brought in Troutman to give App State a 2-1 lead.

Brill extended his hitting streak to 15 games by slamming his third home run of the season over the right field wall to give Appalachian a 5-1 lead.

In the third inning, Davis launched his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall, bringing in two more runs and increasing the lead to 7-1.

The Bulldogs notched one run in the fifth inning off of an RBI single from Griffin.

Head responded by scoring on a throwing error from Stokes in the sixth inning to extend the App State lead to 8-2.

The Bulldogs fired back in the top of the seventh scoring four runs to cut the lead down to two at 8-6 off of three App State errors.

The Mountaineers plated two more runs in the seventh inning to extend the lead to 10-6.

Junior left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs got the start on the mound for the Mountaineers and worked through six innings as he earned his second victory of the season.

“It felt good to get a win and grind it out,” Springs said. “We felt like we needed to win this to keep us moving on to trying to win a SoCon championship.”

App State improves to 13-20 on season and 7-4 in the Southern Conference as they head into their mid-week matchup at Wake Forest on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

Story: Ben Cogsdale, Intern Sports Reporter

Bryant Barbery, Intern Sports Reporter

Photo: Joshua Kincaid, Intern Photographer