Georgia Southern rallies for victory
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
A three-game sweep of Georgia Southern was possible. Appalachian State led the Eagles by two runs going into the ninth inning and closer Rob Marcello was sent to the mound to close the game out.
Georgia Southern had other ideas.
The Eagles scored three runs in the top of the ninth and prevented the sweep with an 8-7 victory in front of 672 fans at Smith Stadium. Appalachian State (17-10, 8-6 SoCon) blew a chance to creep into second place in the Southern Conference. Georgia Southern (20-11, 10-5), which went into three-game series with ASU in first place, is in second behind Elon, which is 19-13, 11-6.
"It's tough to sweep anybody," Appalachian State coach Billy Jones said. "It's just the way it is. They're the first-place team, or they were the first-place team coming in. We knew we were going to be in a dogfight all day and we played great for a majority of the weekend."
Georgia Southern jumped Marcello early with two straight singles to start the ninth. After Arthur Owens was hit with a pitch to load the bases, Zach Lenns drove in two runs with a single to tie the game 7-7.
Scooter Williams added an RBI double off Tyler Moore, who came on in relief of Marcello. Moore got Ben Morgan to bounce out to first base, but the Eagles surged back in front 8-7.
Appalachian State's Noah Holmes singled in the ninth with one out, but no other Mountaineer reached base.
Appalachian State shook off a 4-0 deficit after Georgia Southern scored four unearned runs in the first inning. The Mountaineers eventually tied the game 5-5 in the fifth inning with a three-run rally, and a 7-5 lead in the seventh inning on that had Will Callaway driving in Jaylin Davis with a double and then scoring on a wild pitch.
"They jumped out to a big lead and we responded to it," Callaway said. "We went zeros for a little bit, but then we responded again."
Callaway was also involved in a strange play after doubling in Davis in the fifth inning. Callaway stole third base and William Head took second on a double steal.
Georgia Southern catcher Chase Griffin's throw hit third base and bounced into foul territory behind the base. Callaway and Head both scored on the play to tie the game 5-5.
Callaway capped the weekend by going 3-for-5 from the plate with two doubles and two RBIs. He also scored three runs, having also scored in the first inning on a Head single.
"It's just him taking that expectation tag off himself," Jones said of Callaway's success. "He's never been in that situation where he was supposed to be the guy. With that comes a little pressure. I think he just came out this weekend and just played and you saw the true Will Callaway."
Callaway said it's never easy to lose, especially since the Mountaineers rallied to take the lead.
"Yeah it is, especially when you trail the whole game and come back from a deficit," Callaway said. "It's tough to lose that one, but I think it sticks with the guys to know that we can beat them. It builds confidence as well."
Appalachian State plays its next nine games away from Smith Stadium, including two three game series in the SoCon. Appalachian State plays at UNC Asheville on Tuesday, and then plays three games at UNC Greensboro beginning Friday.
ASU also plays at The Citadel for a key three-game series beginning on April 19. Appalachian State is in the middle of six teams that have either five or six losses in the conference.
"We've got some series with some guys in front of us," Jones said. "We've got to take care of business when we get the opportunity to."
Georgia Southern 8, Appalachian State 7
Georgia Southern 400 010 003 -- 8 16 13
Appalachian State 200 030 200 -- 7 13 4
Hess, McCAll (5), Rowe (7) and Griffin. Springs, Thurber (5), Wilson (7), Marcello (9), Moore (9) and Dimock. W--Rowe (3-0), L--Marcello (0-2). LOB--GSU 12, ASU 9. 2B--GSU, Williams, Morgan; ASU, Callaway 2, Holmes. 3B--GSU, Dodds. HR--ASU, Crespo (3). SH--GSU, Lenns, Avera. SF--GSU, Lenns. SB--GSU, Williams; ASU, Callaway, Head 2. CS--ASU, Crespo.