BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University baseball achieved its highest national ranking in program history on Monday when the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) tabbed the Mountaineers 27th in its latest NCAA Division I top-30 poll.
Since joining NCAA Division I in 1972, Appalachian’s highest previous ranking had been No. 29, which it achieved twice in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s top-30 poll — at the conclusion of the 1984 regular season and again three weeks ago.
This week also marks the first time in program history that ASU is ranked in multiple major college baseball polls. In addition to jumping three spots from No. 30 to No. 27 in this week’s NCBWA poll, Appalachian also reentered this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll at No. 30. Additionally, the Mountaineers fell just shy of entering the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ top-25 poll for the first time, coming in fourth in the “others receiving votes” grouping (29th overall), and climbed six places from No. 33 to No. 27 in this week’s Perfect Game top-50 rankings.
In rankings dedicated solely to mid-major baseball programs, Appalachian comes in at No. 4 in this week’s College Baseball Lineup mid-major top 10 and No. 7 in College Baseball Daily’s mid-major top 25.
The first-place Mountaineers are the highest-ranked Southern Conference club in any of this week’s national polls. This week’s ascent comes on the heels of ASU taking 2-of-3 games from second-place College of Charleston (22-11, 12-6 SoCon) this past weekend.
Appalachian (24-6, 9-3 SoCon) begins a challenging four-game road trip on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. contest at Gardner-Webb (17-14). Following Tuesday’s non-conference duel at GWU, the Mountaineers face another perennial SoCon power this weekend when they travel to Statesboro, Ga. for a three-game series versus Georgia Southern (18-15, 8-7 SoCon).
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
ASU Fr. RHP Jamie Nunn (3-0, 1.64 ERA) vs. GWU So. RHP Andrew Barnett (1-3, 5.20 ERA)
Appalachian puts its highest-ever national ranking on the line for the first time on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. contest at in-state rival Gardner-Webb.
After a fast start, Gardner-Webb has lost eight of its last 11 games to fall to 17-16 on the season. However, the Bulldogs snapped a four-game skid with an 7-3 triumph over Big South power Coastal Carolina on Sunday.
The campaign has been a wildly inconsistent one for GWU, which boasts impressive wins over North Carolina, Liberty, USC Upstate and CCU but has also suffered home losses at the hands of non-Division I foes Mars Hill and Brevard.
The Mountaineers, whose only mid-week loss of the season came at the hands of then-No. 3 South Carolina on March 14, have won six of their last seven meetings with Gardner-Webb, including four in a row in Boiling Springs. ASU owns a 21-14 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to 1977.
Appalachian will send freshman Jamie Nunn to the mound for his fourth-career start. The rookie right-hander has taken control of the mid-week starter's role on ASU's staff by going 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA and .184 opponents' batting average in his first eight collegiate appearances. Rainouts have limited him to just two starts in the last month but in those starts (March 13 at Duke and March 27 versus North Carolina A&T), he has gone 2-0 without surrendering any earned runs over 11 innings.
Offensively, the Mountaineers' biggest storyline is junior shortstop Will Callaway, who brings a 21-game hitting streak into the mid-week duel. Callaway is hitting a gaudy .446 (37-for-83) over the course the 21-game streak, which is just six games shy of the school record of 27, set by Rand Smith in 2009. In addition to hitting safely in 21-straight games, Callaway has also reached base in 25-consecutive contests.