|APPALACHIAN BASEBALL (31-9-1, 11-8-1 SoCon) at Elon (31-18, 14-10 SoCon) • May 7-9 • Elon, N.C. (Latham Park)|
|Date||Time||ASU Probable Starting Pitcher||Elon Probable Starting Pitcher|
|Friday, May 7||7 p.m.||Sr. RHP Matt Andress (8-2, 5.71 ERA)||Jr. LHP Jimmy Reyes (7-3, 4.79 ERA)|
|Saturday, May 8||4 p.m.||Fr. LHP Tyler Jackson (1-2, 4.38 ERA)||Sr. RHP Daniel Britt (4-2, 4.83 ERA)|
|Sunday, May 9||1:30 p.m.||TBA||TBA|
With 11 regular-season games remaining to make a case for its first NCAA postseason berth in 24 years, Appalachian State University baseball travels to Elon this weekend for a pivotal three-game series versus the two-time-defending Southern Conference champion Phoenix. Game times are set for 7 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Elon's Latham Park.
All three games of the weekend series will be broadcast by the Appalachian ISP Sports Network and can be heard locally on WATA 1450 AM and worldwide at GoASU.com.
Just a half-game separates fifth-place Elon (31-18, 14-10 SoCon) and sixth-place Appalachian (31-9-1, 11-8-1 SoCon) in the SoCon standings coming into this weekend's series. Additionally, both teams sit within three-and-a-half games of second place and two-and-a-half games of third place in the tightly-contested league race.
On a national scale, the Mountaineers remain in contention for an at-large NCAA Regional berth thanks to an RPI ranking of No. 43 (according to the latest projections at BoydsWorld.com). Wins over No. 67 Elon would strengthen the Apps' argument for inclusion in its first NCAA Tournament field since 1986, should they not earn the SoCon's automatic berth by winning the conference tournament in Charleston, S.C. later this month. Six of ASU's remaining 11 regular-season games come against teams currently among the top 75 in RPI (three vs. Elon and three at home next weekend vs. No. 35 College of Charleston).
Despite suffering its first non-conference loss of the season on Wednesday night versus Gardner-Webb, Appalachian still comes into this weekend's crucial series as the SoCon's hottest club with wins in 14 of its last 16 games. ASU has also won four-consecutive conference series, including an impressive rain-shortened two-game sweep at then-second-place Samford two weekends ago.
Elon owns perhaps the conference's most impressive wins of the season, having swept a two-game series at No. 5 Clemson in late March and downed No. 20 North Carolina two weeks later. However, the Phoenix have split its last four conference series and, like the Mountaineers, need a strong late-season push to earn its fourth NCAA appearance in five years.
Elon owns a commanding 38-12 advantage in the series dating back to 1956 but the Mountaineers took 2-of-3 games from the first-place Phoenix the last time the clubs met at Latham Park in 2008. In the third and decisive game of that series, Appalachian set school records for runs (26), hits (29) and at-bats (59) to demolish the Phoenix, 26-10.
he most anticipated matchup of the weekend will likely be that pitting the ASU's SoCon-best pitching staff against Elon's high-powered offense. Appalachian tops the conference in team ERA (4.79), opposing batting average (.271), saves (14) and fewest hits (376), runs (217), earned runs (190), walks (146) and home runs (31) allowed but will be challenged by an Elon attack that is second in the league in scoring at 8.3 runs per game despite ranking just seventh with a .300 team batting average.
In addition to boasting the SoCon's top-ranked pitching staff, the Mountaineers also lead the SoCon in hitting (.318 average) and winning percentage (.768 - good for 11th nationally).