Mountaineers split doubleheader with Campbell

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Colin Tate

Game 1

In the first game of Appalachian State’s Wednesday doubleheader against Campbell, the Mountaineers shut out the Camels by a score of 9-0 in five innings.

Freshman outfielder Natalie Orcutt led off for the Mountaineers and scored the only run of the first inning, helping the team jump out to an early 1-0 lead. That was just the start of Orcutt’s day.

Later in the third inning Orcutt hit a ball to the fence, resulting in a double. After a ground ball was hit by sophomore infielder Tiffany Taynor, Orcutt was caught in a pickle between second and third base.

“I have a hurt leg but I completely forgot about that,” Orcutt said. “I have faith in myself that I can get that extra base.”

Orcutt outran multiple Campbell players and ended up safe at third base. She would later score again, helping the Mountaineers to a 3-0 lead entering the fourth inning. But Orcutt still wasn’t done.

Orcutt would bat again in the fourth inning, and this time she hit a three-run home run, extending the lead to 7-0. The home run was the first of Orcutt’s college career. In total, Orcutt accounted for three of the team’s nine runs in the game.

“She’s been doing a great job for us,” head coach Janice Savage said. “She’s a kid who’s fast, can bunt, can hit and has a little bit of power as you saw. That was her first home run this year, and we’ve been waiting for it to come.”

Appalachian State tacked on two more runs in the inning and would go on to win in a shortened game because of the eight-run mercy rule.

Orcutt was not the only Mountaineer to have an exceptional game. Junior pitcher Vanessa Ciocatto pitched a shutout, allowing only one hit. Ciocatto walked just one batter and stuck out four in the blowout.

“I knew coming into this game that our team really feeds off of strong pitching in the circle, so I had to go out there and do my job,” Ciocatto said. “They play really well when we have strong pitching.”

Ciocatto said that it’s much easier to play with a lead, especially early in a game.

“There’s not as much pressure,” Ciocatto said. “I’m more comfortable and able to work on things instead of just forcing it in there.“

Game 2

Campbell got revenge on the Mountaineers in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, winning a close game by a score of 4-3.

The Camels started strong as outfielder Jessica Anderson hit a bases-loaded double to give the Camels a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Appalachian State showed signs of life in the second inning, as senior outfielder Pepper Butler hit a home run in the second inning to cut into the lead. Butler, who also hit a home run in the first game, extended her season home run total to three.

“Pepper’s that kid, when she dials in, there’s no getting her out,” Savage said. “There’s nothing that can stop her. For her to come out and have a big day for us was huge.”

Campbell responded with a home run of its own in the third inning, as freshman infielder Rachel McCollum hit a two-run shot to extend the lead to 4-1.

After that, both defenses dominated the game. Ciocatto, who entered the game after the home run in the third inning in relief of freshman starting pitcher Annaleise Kennedy, was a big reason for the improved play.

Ciocatto shut out the Camels for the rest of the game, striking out three in the process.

“I knew that the other team obviously made their adjustments over the game break,” Ciocatto said. “I had to come in and, whatever I wasn’t doing well the first game, I had to make my adjustments to keep them off balance.”

Butler got things going again in the sixth inning with a triple thanks to a dropped fly ball and an error by Campbell. Junior pinch hitter Katie Mathewson knocked Butler in moments later to trim the lead to two runs.

The Mountaineers had a chance to do more damage, but left two runners on base to end the sixth inning. However, Appalachian State’s defense held strong in the seventh, with Butler making a difficult catch to keep the deficit at two.

“I had to get a really good jump on it,” Butler said. “I just knew it was gonna be in that area so I ran as fast as I could and went for it.”

In the bottom of the seventh, the Mountaineers came out strong, scoring a run and loading the bases with one out and Butler at the plate. With fans on their feet, Butler hit into a double play ending the game with Appalachian State losing by one run.

“It is a little frustrating, but we did get the split,” Savage said. “We did see some positive things to get us going into the weekend.”

The Mountaineers continue their season against Troy, Friday at home at 4:30 p.m.