ASU's baseball team stuns No. 8 N.C. State
by Staff Reports
RALEIGH — N.C. State baseball team found out, just as other power conference teams did last year, that Appalachian State’s is not intimidated by high rankings or all-American opponents.
Appalachian State torched first-team all-American Carlos Rodon for three home runs. Four Appalachian State pitchers combined to limit N.C. State to just four hits in the Mountaineers’ 6-3 win over the No. 8-ranked Wolfpack in ASU’s season-opener Friday at Doak Field.
Freshman Jaylin Davis and juniors Noah Holmes and Preston Troutman all homered off Rodon to give Appalachian State a 5-0 advantage just three-and-a-half innings into the game. ASU pitchers Jamie Nunn, Taylor Thurber, Tyler Moore and Rob Marcello made the lead stand up in the Mountaineers’ fifth win over a nationally ranked team in the past calendar year.
The win was Appalachian State’s fourth straight over opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Appalachian owns 12 wins over ACC opponents since snapping a 40-game losing streak to ACC foes in 2007.
It also gave first-year head coach Billy Jones a victory in his first game with the Mountaineers.
Davis started the onslaught against Rodon by turning on the first pitch he faced as a collegiate batter and launching it high over the left-field wall for a two-out, three-run blast that gave Appalachian a commanding 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Holmes and Troutman followed with solo blasts in the second and fourth innings, respectively, that stretched the advantage to 5-0 in front of a stunned N.C. State season-opening record crowd of 2,396.
Appalachian’s three home runs off Rodon (0-1) in the first four innings of Friday’s contest surpassed the two that he surrendered in 114 2/3 innings last year, when the southpaw became the first NCAA Division I freshman to ever be named one of the three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which honors the United States’ top amateur baseball player.
While the Mountaineers’ offense was putting on its power display against Rodon, Nunn was silencing N.C. State’s bats. The right-handed sophomore retired the first nine Wolfpack batters that he faced.
He ran into his only real trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning when three Appalachian errors contributed to a two-run, N.C. State rally. Those errors allowed the Wolfpack to cut ASU’s lead to 5-2.
After avoiding any further damage by inducing an inning-ending double play in the fourth, Nunn would go on to work two more innings before leaving the game with the three-run lead still intact.
The Wolfpack also brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh and eighth innings but Thurber sat down three-straight batters to end the threat in the seventh. Moore, the former Watauga standout right-hander, battled back from a 3-0 count to get an inning-ending strikeout in the eighth.
There was no drama in the ninth, however, as Marcello retired the side in order to easily record his first-career save. Making his first relief appearance as a Mountaineer, the senior southpaw closed out the win by getting N.C. State’s Bryan Adametz to swing and miss at the game’s final pitch, drawing a huge roar from the large contingent of Appalachian State fans among the record crowd at Doak Field.
In all, the four Mountaineer pitchers combined to allow just two earned runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking only three. Nunn (1-0) led the way, surrendering just one earned run on three hits and fanning five in six innings.
Offensively, Davis added a ninth-inning double to go along with his first-inning homer and was the only Mountaineer with multiple hits.
Rodon, who had never surrendered more than three earned runs in 16 previous starts at NC State, was tagged for five runs on five hits over six innings and, despite striking out eight, suffered his first collegiate loss. After going 9-0 as a freshman last season and 11-0 as a senior at nearby Holly Springs High School in 2011, Rodon suffered his first loss at any level since dropping a decision as a high-school junior on May 21, 2010.
The teams resume their three-game season-opening series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. contest at Doak Field.
The Mountaineers are 5-2 in their last seven matchups versus nationally ranked teams. Each of Appalachian State’s last three victories have come over nationally ranked teams. Appalachian beat No. 23 Oklahoma and No. 15 Virginia in last year’s NCAA Charlottesville (Va.) Regional.
Prior to taking 2-of-3 games at No. 7 LSU last February, Appalachian State owned only one victory over a nationally ranked opponent since 1982, which was a 7-5 win at No. 20 Miami (Fla.) in 2011.