May 2, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally past arch rival Appalachian State, 10-9, Friday night in the Southern Conference series opener at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Western Carolina improved to 30-14 overall, 14-4 in SoCon play to move atop the SoCon standings by percentage points as Davidson dropped its series opener at Elon, 8-5.
Trailing by a run, 8-7, entering the bottom of the seventh inning, WCU junior Jacob Hoyle led off with a double down the right field line before taking third on a wild pitch. He crossed the plate to score the game-tying run on an infield ground out by Luke Gragg, who reached on the fielder's choice. Then, with the bases loaded, junior Bradley Strong put pressure on the Mountaineer defense with a sharp ground ball to the left side which scooted under the glove of the shortstop and into left center field allowing two runs to score, making it 10-8.
Appalachian State (16-27, 9-9 SoCon) managed to scratch the scoreboard in the top of the eighth inning as Dillon Dobson drove a two-out double down the right field line before Preston Troutman laced a single through the left side to plate the run. However, junior Tyler Powell was called upon to get the final out of the eighth before working a perfect ninth with a strikeout to earn his ninth save of the season.
Freshman reliever Korey Anderson (1-0) earned his first career victory, striking out two in 1.1 innings out of the bullpen, while Powell had an appearance of equal length on the mound. Catamount starter Jeremy Null only lasted two innings before leaving with muscle tightness in his back. Senior RHP T.J. Fussell, a native of Asheville, N.C., was again solid in relief, striking out six in three a third innings of relief.
Four Catamounts posted multi-hit games including Strong who doubled twice with Hoyle, Gragg and senior Cody Jones all collecting two hits apiece. Sophomore infielder J.D. Long keyed a big second inning as the Catamounts pushed across five runs including a three-run home run over the "Purple Monster" in left field, his first career homer. Senior Adam Martin walked to extend his safely reached streak to a 15-straight games.
With WCU ahead, 7-4, the Mountaineers scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a one-run, 8-7, advantage. Tyler Stroup singled home Brian Bauk for the first run before scoring on the RBI single by Jaylin Davis. A wild pitch allowed Bradley Morton to score the tying run with the go-ahead marker scoring on a called balk to make it 8-7, setting up WCU's seventh inning rally.
ASU reliever Dallas DeVrieze (0-3) took the loss after allowing two runs - only one earned - on four hits in three and a third innings. He struck out one while walking two, relieving starter Sean Mason who allowed seven runs on seven hits in a three-inning start.
Offensively, Stroup and Troutman both drove in two runs apiece, with the latter doing so on three hits including a triple and a solo home run. Dillon Dobson doubled as a part of a 1-for-4 showing at the plate.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for a 2:00 pm start on Saturday afternoon in Cullowhee.