Cornell stuns ASU in ninth
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State’s baseball team was in a good position to beat Cornell Sunday at Smith Stadium.
The Mountaineers had a one-run lead, and closer Rob Marcello was on the mound in the top of the ninth inning. But after Marcello walked the first three batters he faced, Cornell’s Spencer Souza blasted a grand slam over the right field fence.
The Big Red added a run later in the inning and took an 8-4 victory over a shocked Appalachian State. Cornell (6-5) won two of the three games it played with Appalachian State, which was the first time an ASU team lost a series to a nonconference opponent since Smith Stadium opened in 2007.
“We had it set up the way we wanted to do it and didn’t execute it in the end,” Mountaineers coach Billy Jones said.
Appalachian State (10-7) battled back from a 3-2 deficit to take a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning when William Head scored on a Hector Crespo single. Head reached base with a single and went to third base from first on a Brandon Burris sacrifice bunt.
But Cornell’s first three batters in the top of the ninth inning walked to load the bases. Marcello pitched Souza to a 3-2 count before Souza drilled a pitch over the right field wall. The Big Red added an unearned run in the inning to take an 8-4 lead.
Jones said he stuck with Marcello, who has pitched well for the Mountaineers the entire season.
“He’s done it for us all year, so I was going to give him a little leeway,” Jones said. “Obviously, I didn’t think he’d give up the grand slam. It was just one of those things. I’ve got to have trust in my players and I believe in them. We just didn’t get it done today.”
Appalachian State staged a rally after Head and Crespo walked, but Preston Troutman grounded into a fielder’s choice to give the Mountaineers two outs.
Jaylin Davis was hit by a pitch, but it was ruled that he also swung at the pitch after the umpires conferred.
“It’s not a conference weekend, but it’s always tough to lose two out of three on your own field,” Crespo said. “We’ve just got to bounce back and look forward to this week.”
Appalachian State collected nine hits off six Cornell pitchers, but left eight runners on base. Crespo and Will Callaway each had two hits. Crespo and Troutman each had infield hits, and then scored on a two-run single by Dillon Dobson, in the first inning.
Callaway added an RBI single in the sixth.
Cornell center fielder JD Whetsel chased down a deep drive by Josh Zumbrook in the fourth inning. Whetsel also robbed Dobson of extra bases by chasing down his deep fly ball in the eighth.
Souza, playing right field, caught up to a Dobson fly in the sixth that would have driven in a run.
“Their center fielder made a couple of nice plays out there, so we really couldn’t string that big inning together,” Jones said. “We need to be able to tack on (late) and we didn’t do it.”
Cornell finished with seven hits, but left just one runner. JD Whetsel doubled and scored in the first inning, and Collin McGee belted a two-run home run in the third inning.
Appalachian State relief pitcher Taylor Thurber relived ASU starter Jeffrey Springs at the start of the fourth inning, and did not allow a base runner in four innings of work.
The Mountaineers play their next four games away from Smith Stadium. They play a nonconference single game Tuesday at North Carolina A&T, and then follow with a Southern Conference series at College of Charleston. That begins Friday and goes through Sunday.
Cornell 8, Appalachian State 4
Cornell 102 000 005 — 8 7 0
Appalachian State 200 001 100 — 4 9 1
Jones, Hawley (6), Kazley (7), Urbon, Byrne (9), Horton (9) and McGee. Springs, Thurber (4), Wilson (8), Marcello (9), Tate (9) and Zumbrook. W—Urbon (1-1), L—Marcello (0-1). LOB—Cornell 1, ASU 8. 2B—Cornell, Whetsel; ASU, Davis. HR—Cornell, McGee (1), Souza (1). SH—Cornell, D’Alessandro; ASU, Burris. CS—Cornell, Souza; ASU, Dobson. DP—Cornell 1.