MARCH 23-25 • ELON, N.C. • LATHAM PARK
FRIDAY, MARCH 23 • 6:30 P.M.
ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (4-0, 4.03 ERA) vs. Elon Jr. LHP Dylan Clark (5-1, 1.26 ERA)
SATURDAY, MARCH 24 • 4 P.M.
ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (3-1, 3.52 ERA) vs. Elon Jr. LHP Spencer Medick (0-0, 3.18 ERA)
SUNDAY, MARCH 25 • 1:30 P.M.
ASU Jr. LHP (3-0, 1.82 ERA) vs. Elon TBA
First-place Appalachian State University baseball faces its stiffest Southern Conference test to date when it travels to Elon for a three-game series this weekend. Game times are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Elon's Latham Park.
Friday's game will be broadcast by the Appalachian IMG Sports Network and can be heard live on WATA 1450 AM in Boone and worldwide at GoASU.com. Live stats for all three contests will also be available at GoASU.com.
Appalachian (17-3, 6-0 SoCon) carries not only a perfect conference record but also its first-ever national ranking into this weekend's series at Elon (12-10, 6-3 SoCon). After being rained out at High Point on Tuesday, Friday's series opener marks the Mountaineers' first outing since breaking into this week's Collegiate Baseball Newspaper top 30 college baseball poll at No. 29. Since joining the NCAA Division I ranks in 1972, ASU had never previously been ranked in any of college baseball's major polls.
This weekend's pivotal series matches teams going in different directions of late, as Appalachian has won 15 of its last 16 games while Elon has dropped four-straight, including the final two games of last weekend's SoCon series at Davidson. ASU swept three games from DC to open league play the previous weekend.
Despite the Mountaineers being the hotter club going into the weekend, the series will easily be Appalachian's biggest challenge in conference play to date. Elon has won three of the last four and four of the last six SoCon regular-season titles and have already claimed series victories over the SoCon's preseason co-favorites this season (College of Charleston and Georgia Southern). Due to a challenging schedule that has included a total of seven contests versus national powers South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina and NC State, the Phoenix has spent much of the campaign ranked among the nation's top 15 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Even with the four-game losing streak, Elon is still ranked 43rd out of 297 NCAA Division I teams in the latest RPI projections at WarrenNolan.com.
ASU brings a gaudy RPI of 20 into the weekend series, thanks in large part to its own strong showings against college baseball's elite. The Apps not only boast a series victory at No. 7 LSU and a season sweep of Atlantic Coast Conference member Duke but their three losses have come by a total of seven runs to clubs all ranked among the RPI top 100 (2-1 vs. No. 88 George Mason, 4-0 at No. 23 LSU and 6-4 at No. 10 South Carolina).
Elon holds a commanding 44-12 lead in the series between the two rivals (dating to 1956). The Phoenix's advantage has been even more pronounced since it joined the SoCon in 2003-04, as Elon has won 22-of-25 meetings and swept 6-of-8 regular-season series between the two clubs. Appalachian's only SoCon series victory over the Phoenix came in 2008 when it won the final two contests of a three-game set at Latham Park. Since then, ASU has dropped eight-straight to the Elon.
Statistically, the Mountaineers hold a huge edge coming into the latest installment of the rivalry. Although both teams sport spectacular pitching staffs (ASU ranks second in SoCon with a 3.19 earned run average while Elon is third with a 3.28 ERA), Appalachian also boasts one of the league's top offensive attacks while the Phoenix have struggled at the plate throughout the campaign. The Mountaineers lead the SoCon in scoring (7.8 runs per game), slugging percentage (.482) and on-base percentage (.391) whereas the Phoenix ranks dead last in the 11-team league in all three categories (4.4 runs/game, .338 slugging percentage, .322 on-base percentage).