Western Carolina blasts Appalachian State
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
By the time Appalachian State got to bat in the bottom of the first inning, Western Carolina held a 6-0 lead.
By the time the Mountaineers scored their first run in the bottom of the third inning, Western Carolina held a 12-0 lead.
By the time Appalachian State scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Western Carolina had scored 23 runs. The Mountaineers could not stop Western's offense in a 23-5 loss in the first game of a three-game series Thursday at Smith Stadium.
Appalachian State coach Billy Jones is no stranger to games similar to the one his Mountaineers lost Thursday. One of them cost a team at a chance at playing in the College World Series, which is in Omaha, Neb.
"We couldn't get them out," Mountaineers coach Billy Jones said. "It was one of those things. I've been in a game like that. I've been in a game like that with a team that won 48 games and was one game away from Omaha."
First-place Western Carolina (37-17, 22-6 SoCon), which has one of the most potent offenses in the Southern Conference, banged out 21 hits in its pummeling of the Mountaineers (27-21, 12-13). The Catamounts received just three walks, but ASU pitchers hit six Western Carolina batters. Appalachian State's defense did not make any errors.
Instead, Western Carolina scored in six of the nine innings of the game, including a nine-run rally in the seventh inning that included a grand slam from Julian Ridings.
That was only the second home run in the seventh. Tyler White hit his second home run, a two-run shot, in the seventh. White also hit a two-run home run in the third inning.
It all started in the first inning when the Catamounts jumped Appalachian State starter Jamie Nunn. The Mountaineers' ace lasted just two innings after giving up eight runs, all earned, and eight hits.
"Nunn was up and didn't hit his spots," Jones said. "They made him pay for it."
Appalachian State finished with a respectable 10 hits, but was never in the game. The Mountaineers added three runs in the ninth inning with the help of a throwing error and two RBI singles by Preston Tiller and Hector Crespo.
Western Carolina starter Jeremy Null allowed two runs on six hits in his six innings. Null improved to 8-2 while Nunn slipped to 9-5.
White went 4-for-6 with two home runs, a double and four RBIs. Luke Gragg went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk.
Former Patton standout Aaron Attaway went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, three runs scored and two runs batted in.
The teams play again at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and again at 3 p.m. Saturday. Both games are at Smith Stadium. Jones said the Mountaineers have to rebound in both games to put Thursday's loss behind them.
Appalachian State will send Sam Agnew-Wieland to the mound Friday.
"You've got to be able to respond," Jones said. "It's one of those things where the beauty of baseball is tomorrow's a new day. We're going to have to come out with some energy and play and get after them. There's no other way to sugarcoat it than that."
Western Carolina 23, Appalachian State 5
Western Carolina 624 110 900 -- 23 21 1
Appalachian State 001 001 003 -- 5 10 0
Null, Davis (7), Sandefur (9) and Martin. Nunn, Jackson (3), Howard (4), Capone (6), McCann (7) and Zumbrook. W--Null (8-2), L--Nunn (9-5). LOB--Western Carolina 6, App State 7. 2B--Western Carolina, Attaway, White, Hoyle, B. Stone; App State, Head, Zumbrook. HR--Western Carolina, Attaway (11), Ridings (10), White 2 (13), Hoyle (9). SF--Western Carolina, Jones. HBP--Western Carolina, Spiess (by Capone), Ridings (by Capone), Hoyle (by Capone), Gragg (by Capone), Gragg (by McCann); ASU, Zumbrook (by Sandefur. Blk--Western Carolina, Sandefur.