More challenging competition awaits Appalachian State University baseball this weekend when it travels to Mount Pleasant, S.C. for the College of Charleston Tournament at the Ballpark at Patriots Point. Appalachian State opens the tournament on Friday at noon versus Michigan, takes on Kent State on Saturday at 11 a.m. and wraps up the weekend against host College of Charleston on Sunday at 3 p.m.
After sweeping three games from UNC Asheville last weekend, Appalachian State (4-13) dropped a pair of midweek nail-biters to Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Notre Dame and Clemson.
On Tuesday, Appalachian led Notre Dame, 9-7, with two outs in the ninth inning but the Fighting Irish rallied to send the game to extra innings. In the 10th inning, ND scored four unearned runs to hand the Mountaineers a heartbreaking 13-9 defeat.
On Wednesday, App State freshman Sean Mason threw a complete-game four-hitter but No. 14 Clemson managed to push across single runs in the first and fourth innings to top the Apps, 2-1. The one-run loss was Appalachian's fifth of the season and third at the hands of a nationally ranked opponent (the Mountaineers also dropped one-run decisions at No. 25 Arkansas and No. 6 NC State).
Appalachian State's grueling early-season slate continues this weekend against a fine field at the CofC Tournament.
Friday's opener versus Michigan (6-10-1) marks the 13th time in the Mountaineers' first 18 games that they will face an opponent from one of the five "power conferences" (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC). After never meeting on the baseball diamond prior to this season, App State and Michigan are squaring off for the second time in 13 days. Behind eight strong innings from starting pitcher Tyler Moore, the Mountaineers topped the Wolverines, 4-1, on March 1 at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Cary, N.C.
Saturday marks the fourth all-time matchup between Appalachian and Kent State (7-6). The Mountaineers lead the series, 2-1, but the clubs have not met since the Golden Flashes won a 5-3 contest in Boone in 1995. In their only other meetings, App State swept a doubleheader from KSU in Boone in 1986. One of college baseball's most underrated programs, Kent State has earned an NCAA regional bid five times in the last seven years and advanced to the College World Series just two years ago (2012).
Sunday's opponent is a familiar one for Appalachian State, as the Mountaineers and College of Charleston (13-3) were Southern Conference foes from 1999-2013. CofC holds a 34-14 advantage in the all-time series between the two programs but the Mountaineers narrowed the gap in recent years with the two clubs splitting their final five SoCon series (two App State wins, two CofC wins and a rain-shortened two-game split last year at Patriots Point). Charleston is off to a blazing start in 2014 with wins in 13 of its first 16 games, including triumphs in 2-of-3 games against North Carolina to open the season. The Cougars have played 14 of their first 16 games at home, with their only two road games played just across the Ravenel Bridge against intra-city rival The Citadel.
Appalachian State hopes that its superb starting pitching from last weekend carries over to this weekend's tournament. In last weekend's three-game sweep of UNCA, Appalachian's starters (Jamie Nunn, Moore and Jeffrey Springs) combined to limit the Bulldogs to just eight runs and a .236 batting average over three games. All three worked at least six innings and earned wins.
Appalachian also hopes to regain its form at the plate after Wednesday night's one-run output at Clemson. Prior to being held to five hits in the 2-1 loss at CU, App State had hit .308 as a team and banged out at least eight hits per game in its previous five contests.
|APPALACHIAN STATE BASEBALL (4-13) at College of Charleston Tournament
Friday-Sunday, March 14-16 • Mount Pleasant, S.C. (Ballpark at Patriots Point)
|Date||Time||Opponent||App State Probable Starting Pitcher||Opp. Probable Starting Pitcher|
|Friday, March 14||Noon||Michigan||Jr. RHP Jamie Nunn (1-3, 5.75 ERA)||Jr. LHP Trent Szkutnik (0-3, 3.26 ERA)|
|Saturday, March 15||11 a.m.||Kent State||Sr. RHP Tyler Moore (2-2, 3.00 ERA)||So. RHP Nick Jensen-Clagg (0-0, 5.59 ERA)|
|Sunday, March 16||3 p.m.||College of Charleston||Jr. LHP Jeffrey Springs (1-0, 3.27 ERA)||Fr. RHP Bailey Ober (4-0, 1.00 ERA)|