May 18, 2013
Boone, N.C. - Dillon Dobson delivered a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap an eight-run rally over the final three frames for Appalachian State as the Mountaineers edged No. 29 Western Carolina, 9-8, Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale at Beaver Field / Smith Stadium.
Western Carolina, the 2013 regular season champion, finishes the regular season at 38-18 overall, 23-7 in the Southern Conference. The Catamounts will face the eighth-seeded Samford Bulldogs in game two of the 2013 SoCon Baseball Championship next Wednesday, May 22 at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.
Saturday's loss for WCU was its first since April 24, halting an 11-game win streak overall. It was also the first Catamount loss in league play since dropping the opener at Furman back on April 5, ending a school-record, 16-game SoCon winning streak.
Western Carolina, which won the three-game series over the Mountaineers with a 23-5 win Thursday and 9-1 tally on Friday, broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning in Saturday's finale. Junior Cody Jones doubled to right field before coming home on a RBI single up the middle by Danny Bermudez.
Then with two outs, Julian Ridings was hit by a pitch and Tyler White drew one of two walks on the day to load the bases ahead of Adam Martin. The versatile junior who played at first base in the game blasted a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left center for the second grand slam home run for the Catamounts in the three-game series. The homer was the seventh for Martin this season.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Mountaineers answered with a solo run as Josh Zumbrook reached on an infield single to third and later scored on a ground out to short by Hector Crespo to pull within four, 5-1.
The Catamounts stretched their lead in the top of the seventh inning, again rallying with two outs in the frame. Martin was plunked by a pitch for the second time in the contest with Dykota Spiess drawing a walk to put two aboard. A wild pitch moved runners to the corners with Bradley Strong walking to load the bases. On the second pitch of his at bat, designated hitter Luke Gragg was hit by a pitch to drive in a run making it 6-1.
With the bases still full of Catamounts, Jones then dribbled an infield single up the third base line to drive home a run. ASU's third baseman William Head attempted a bare hand pick-up, but was off-balance and could not field the ball. Strong, running from second base, streaked around third and beat Will Callaway's throw home to bring home a second run and giving WCU an 8-1 advantage.
Appalachian Stat e (28-22, 13-4 SoCon) started its comeback in the home portion of the seventh inning as Crespo drove in two on a double to left field, but was caught at third trying to stretch it into a triple. In the eighth, a single by Callaway and back-to-back walks to Dobson and William Head loaded the bases. ASU scored runs on a ground out to first and a sacrifice fly with Head scoring on a pick-off play between first and second that resulted in the final out, but pulled the Mountaineers to within two, 8-6.
In the decisive ninth inning, the home squad put two aboard as Brandon Burris was hit by a pitch and Crespo doubled up the middle off of a diving Aaron Attaway's glove. With runners at second and third, Noah Holmes drove in an infield single ahead of Callaway who delivered a game-tying, run scoring single up the middle and leaving runners at first and second. Dobson then drove the first pitch of his at bat into right center to plate Holmes from second base, giving the Mountaineers the walk-off win.
Spiess led the Catamounts with a 3-for-4 outing with a trio of singles while also walking and scoring a run. Jones and Bermudez also collected two hits apiece, both driving in a run, while Martin paced the squad with four RBI on the grand slam homer.
Catamount closer Preston Hatcher (6-3) suffered the loss, surrendering four runs on four hits with two walks and a hit batter. Hatcher came on in the bottom of the eighth inning to get WCU into the ninth inning with a two-run lead.
Senior Morgan McKinney factored in the no-decision, tossing five and two thirds innings in the start for WCU. The Gainesville, Fla., native struck out three against two walks, limiting the Mountaineers to one run on just four hits.
For Appalachian State, reliever Jeffrey Springs (3-3) picked up the win after tossing the final two innings of scoreless relief, limiting the Catamounts to just two hits with a strikeout. Starter Chad Farmer surrendered five runs on seven hits in five innings before Josh Wilson gave up three runs on a hit in two innings of work.
Crespo led four Mountaineers with two hits - both doubles - driving in three runs. Dobson also doubled as a part of a 2-for-4 outing.