Mountaineers rally for win over Western
by Staff Reports
Dillon Dobson's walk-off double capped an Appalachian State rally from a seven-run deficit, and gave the Mountaineers a 9-8 victory Saturday at Smith Stadium
Appalachian State (28-22, 13-14 SoCon) clinched fifth place in the final Southern Conference standings. The Mountaineers play fourth-seeded The Citadel (32-24, 18-12 SoCon) in the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament opener on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.
It looked like Appalachian would ride a four-game SoCon losing streak into the tournament when regular-season champion Western Carolina (38-18, 23-7 SoCon) scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a commanding 8-1 lead. The Mountaineers scored two runs in the seventh, three in the eighth and three more in the ninth off Western closer Preston Hatcher to complete the come-from-behind win.
The rally came exactly one year after Appalachian State scored five ninth-inning runs off Hatcher in a SoCon-title-clinching 5-4 triumph at Western Carolina. Much like Appalachian's victory in Cullowhee last season, Hatcher was brought on Saturday in a non-save situation but blew a big lead en route to a heart-breaking loss.
The Mountaineers had already cut the deficit to 8-3 when Hatcher was summoned from the bullpen with runners on first and second base and nobody out in the eighth. The SoCon saves leader promptly walked the first batter he faced then surrendered three runs (two inherited, one of his own) before escaping the eighth with a narrow 8-6 lead still intact.
After Appalachian State relief pitcher Jeffrey Springs worked his second-straight scoreless inning in the top of the ninth, Hatcher got things going for the Mountaineers in the bottom of the inning when he hit Brandon Burris with the first pitch of inning.
Hector Crespo followed by legging out a double to shallow center field, which gave the Mountaineers the tying run in scoring position with nobody out.
Crespo's double proved to be the first of four-straight hits for the Mountaineers. After Crespo, Noah Holmes drilled a line drive off Hatcher's leg that brought Burris home from third with Appalachian's seventh run, Crespo moved to third with the tying run and put Holmes aboard as the winning run.
Three pitches later, Will Callaway tied it at 8-8 with an RBI single to center field. That set up Dobson, who ripped the first pitch he saw from Hatcher into the right-center field gap. Holmes easily scored the winning run from second as Dobson's first-career walk-off hit bounced off the wall in right-center.
Springs (3-3) earned his third win of the season by keeping the Catamounts' high-powered offense off the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings. Hatcher, who has 14 saves and six wins on the campaign, suffered the loss to fall to 6-3.
Offensively, Crespo, Callaway, Dobson and Preston Troutman had two hits apiece to pace the Mountaineers' 11-hit attack. Seven of the Apps' 11 hits came in the final three innings.
Crespo led Appalachian with three RBI and Callaway extended his hitting streak to 25 games with a leadoff single in the eighth inning. Callaway's 25-game hitting streak is tied with Tommy Green (1988) for the second-longest in Appalachian State history, just two shy of the school-record 27-game streak compiled by Rand Smith in 2009.
Dykota Spiess led 29th-ranked WCU with three hits and Adam Martin drove in half of the Catamounts' eight runs with a fifth-inning grand slam.