CLEMSON, S.C. — Lack of extra base hits and bad wind conditions proved to be the difference for Appalachian State University baseball, as it dropped a close 2-1 game to No. 14 Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C., on Wednesday.
With wind clocked at nearly 25 mph to the west, all balls that were hit to left field floated and all balls hit to right field died in the air and fell, which made outfielders' jobs difficult.
Clemson (10-5) took advantage of the windy conditions to score the game's first run in the bottom of the first inning. Center fielder Tyler Slaton singled through the right side to open the frame and advanced to second base on a fielder’s choice. One batter later, Garrett Boulware's single to left center floated into the gap and Slaton came home easily to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Clemson scored in nearly the same way that it did in the first to stretch its lead to 2-0. Tyler Krieger led off the stanza with a single to left field and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. One batter later, right fielder Steven Duggar singled to left field and Krieger scored from second, sliding under the glove of Appalachian State catcher Ozzy Gonzalez on a close play at the plate to double the Tigers' advantage.
In the fifth inning, it was Appalachian State's turn to take advantage of the wind as Gonzalez lifted a 2-2 pitch from Clemson starting pitcher Zack Erwin into the left field and the drive carried over the wall for a two-out solo home run that cut the Mountaineers' deficit to 2-1. The homer was Gonzalez's first as a Mountaineers and broke up a perfect game for Erwin, who had retired Appalachian's first 14 batters of the evening.
Appalachian State's best chance to pull even came in the eighth inning when it put together its first back-to-back hits of the game on singles by junior Michael Pierson and freshman pinch-hitter Matt Brill, which put the tying run in scoring position with only one out. However, Erwin got Preston Troutman to fly out to right field for the second out of the inning and Clemson closer Matt Campbell came on to strike out William Head for the third out, ending the Mountaineer scoring threat.
Appalachian put the tying run on base again in the ninth when Jaylin Davis poked a two-out single to left but Campbell struck out Alex Leach to end the game and hand the Mountaineers their fifth one-run loss of the season. Three of App State's five one-run losses have come at the hands of nationally ranked teams.
The story of the game was the pitchers' duel that developed between Clemson's Erwin and Appalachian State freshman Sean Mason. Erwin (1-0) allowed just one run on four hits over 7.2 innings and struck out seven en route to the win. Mason nearly matched his adversary pitch-for-pitch, working all eight innings and allowing only two runs on four hits. He needed only 98 pitches to work the complete game but suffered the tough-luck loss to fall to 0-1 on the season.
Campbell struck out three of the five batters he faced to earn the four-out save, his second of the season.
Appalachian outhit Clemson, 5-4, led by two from Davis.
Appalachian State (4-13) continues its South Carolina road trip on Friday when it opens a three-game weekend at the College of Charleston Tournament with its second matchup of the season versus Michigan. First pitch is set for noon at Patriots Point Park in Mount Pleasant, S.C.