By David Rogers. April 25, 2018. CHARLOTTE, NC – Fresh off of a weekend series win over Louisiana-Monroe on the road, Appalachian State’s baseball team was looking to establish momentum in a high profile “home” game Wednesday night at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte.
COVER IMAGE: Gardner-Webb freshman righthander Jordan Hampton had a strong first three innings vs. Appalachian State at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Instead, the Mountaineers got punched by Gardner-Webb’s Runnin’ Bulldogs, 8-1, in front of 1,641 fans enjoying perfect baseball weather. All were guests of the Charlotte Knights in the final game of the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate’s Sunbelt Rentals Collegiate Baseball Series.
For the first three innings, the game looked like a pitcher’s duel between App State’s junior righthander Brandon Boone and Gardner-Webb’s freshman righty Jordan Hampton. Boone blanked the Runnin’ Bulldogs through the first three innings, not a single GW player reaching base. For his part, Hampton didn’t give up a hit until the third, a 2-out single to left by App State redshirt sophomore centerfielder Beau Myers, but then promptly retired the next batter to end the inning unscathed.
Boone gave up a leadoff double to Bulldogs’ rightfielder, Mason Fox in the 4th, and the junior scrambled home when his third baseman teammate, Eric Jones, singled to left to give GW a tenuous, 1-0 lead.
Gardner-Webb broke the game open in the top of the fifth, aided by two Boone hit batters serving as bookends to some good baserunning by the de facto visitors to load the bases. Appalachian head coach Kermit Smith had seen enough, flagging the Bullpen for the services of Cameron Kepley. The freshman righthander from Midland, NC got the final two outs, but not before giving up a single to left by Fox to score two runs. Kepley was able to wiggle out of another bases loaded jam by getting GW’s Jones to fly out to center.
Mountaineer junior rightfielder C.J. Brown knocked a 2-out homer out of the park to get App State on the board in the bottom of the fifth, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs leftfield, Chandler Redmond, led off the top half of the sixth with a homer (his 12th of the season) to nullify any advantage gained by Brown’s team-leading fifth homer of the season.
As it turned out, Redmond’s dinger was just the tip of the sword, as the visitors leveraged a single, a double, a triple, a walk, and a hit batter to score four more runs, giving the “visitors” from Boiling Spring their final total of eight runs.
Appalachian State’s five pitchers deployed in the nine-inning affair gave up eight runs on seven hits and no errors, while Gardner-Webb used six hurlers to limit the Mountaineers to one run on three hits and no errors.
For the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Fox was 2-4 on the day, scoring two runs and notching two RBIs. Second baseman Mickey Dugan (1-5) made his one hit count, knocking in two runs and scoring one. First baseman Corey Howard ripped a triple in going 1-4 on the day, tallying two RBIs.
App State head coach Smith expressed disappointment in the loss, but was extremely grateful for what he described as the “first class” hospitality of the Charlotte Knights and for the opportunity to play in the magnificent venue that is BB&T Ballpark.
Next up for the Mountaineer hardballers is a 3-game weekend series against Arkansas-Little Rock, beginning Friday with a 6 pm first pitch at Smith Stadium and Beaver Field.