With just four weekends remaining in the 2013 regular season, Appalachian State University baseball opens the campaign's home stretch with a three-game Southern Conference series versus Samford this weekend. Game times are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Appalachian's Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Appalachian State (22-15, 10-10 SoCon) and Samford (22-20, 8-10 SoCon) are the SoCon's defending regular-season and tournament champions, respectively, but stand in fifth and seventh in the league standings coming into this weekend's series. Both are looking to end three-game skids in conference action, as Samford was swept at Western Carolina two weekends ago and Appalachian dropped all three contests at The Citadel last weekend.
However, the Mountaineers snapped their four-game overall losing streak with a 7-3 win over North Carolina A&T on Tuesday. Appalachian was in line to make it back-to-back wins on Wednesday night at ETSU but the game was suspended due to rain with the Apps leading 3-1 in the seventh inning. The game will be completed on Tuesday prior to the finale of the home-and-home series between the two clubs in Boone.
Appalachian is expected to be buoyed by the return of slugger Will Callaway to the lineup this weekend. Callaway, who is riding a 13-game hitting streak, sat out of both games this week (Tuesday's win over N.C. A&T and Wednesday's suspended contest at ETSU) to rest a hand injury originally sustained on Wednesday, April 17 versus Campbell. Playing with the injury last weekend at The Citadel, Callaway hit .333 (4-for-12) with a double, home run and two RBI in three games.
Aside from Callaway's expected return to action, the biggest individual story of the series is senior Hector Crespo being in line to become Appalachian State's all-time leader in games played. Crespo comes into the weekend with 208 games under his belt as a Mountaineer, one shy of the school record set by former teammate David Towarnicky from 2007-10. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Crespo will tie the record on Friday night and break it on Saturday afternoon. It will be the second Appalachian career record for Crespo, who broke the program's all-time stolen bases mark with his 86th career steal earlier this season.
Another storyline was introduced on Thursday when head coach Billy Jones announced that he would make a change in the members of Appalachian's weekend rotation for the first time this season. After right-handers Jamie Nunn (7-3) and Sam Agnew-Wieland (5-3) make their usual starts on Friday and Saturday, respectively, left-handed junior Chad Farmer is scheduled make the first weekend start of his career in Sunday's series finale. Farmer has been solid as the Mountaineers' primary mid-week starter this season, going 2-0 with a 4.71 ERA in six starts (not including one run allowed in Wednesday's start at ETSU).
|APPALACHIAN STATE BASEBALL (22-15, 10-10 SoCon) vs. Samford (22-20, 8-10 SoCon)
Friday-Sunday, April 26-28 • Boone, N.C. (Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium)
|Date||Time||Appalachian State Probable Starting Pitcher||Samford Probable Starting Pitcher|
|Friday, April 26||6:30 p.m.||So. RHP Jamie Nunn (7-3, 3.29 ERA)||Jr. RHP Alex Milazzo (6-0, 3.76 ERA)|
|Saturday, April 27||3 p.m.||Jr. RHP Sam Agnew-Wieland (5-3, 4.29 ERA)||Jr. RHP C.K. Irby (6-3, 4.06 ERA)|
|Sunday, April 28||1 p.m.||Jr. LHP Chad Farmer (2-0, 4.71 ERA)||TBA|