By David Rogers. March 13m 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — High softball drama was the order of the day (and evening) on Wednesday at Sywassink/Lloyd Stadium. Host Appalachian State (14-7) held onto a nailbiter in Game 1 to defeat visiting Gardner -Webb (15-9), 4-2, before dropping the nightcap to the Bulldogs, 9-6.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES BY DAVID ROGERS FOR BLOWING ROCK NEWS
Trailing 4-2 in Game 1 of their doubleheader, Gardner-Webb loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, putting the tying run on second with just one out. But the Mountaineers starting pitcher, ace Kenzie Longanecker, dug deep to wiggle out of the inning when she overpowered the final two batters, who struck out swinging.
The junior righthander from Sanford, FL retired the side for the first three innings before giving up a Bulldog hit in the top of the 4th. She seemed to tire in the top of the 5th when Bulldog catcher Autumn Owen led off the inning with a towering home run that pounded onto the roof of the Sofield Indoor Practice Facility beyond the fence in left-centerfield.
The next two batters flied out deep to center, but the bottom of the Runnin’ Bulldogs batting order produced one more run on consecutive doubles by shortstop Weslyn Almond and second baseman Trinity Sterrett to narrow the score to 4-2.
Appalachian jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first when the top of the Mountaineers’ batting order roughed up Gardner-Webb starting pitcher for two singles by 3B Keri White and 1B Haley Stewart and a double by 2B Sidney Russell. Compounding the problems for GWU were a pair of throwing and fielding errors, allowing App State to tally three runs on three hits and two errors in opening stanza.
The Mountaineers added a fourth run in the third inning on a walk to White, followed by a sacrifice bunt perfectly executed by SS Caylie Kifer to advance the runner. White moved to third on a passed ball, then scored on a ground out to shortstop before the Runnin’ Bulldogs could escape the inning.
Gardner-Webb turned the tables on the Mountaineers in the nightcap, accounting for three home runs over the centerfield fence, two by Owen, making it a trifecta kind of day for the Bulldogs’ catcher. The freshman catcher from Mill Spring, NC was responsible for five RBIs in Game 2, for a total of six during the doubleheader.
GWU opened the scoring with two runs in the top half of the first inning and never trailed. After Owen’s second dinger, the Runnin’ Bulldogs led 9-2. AApp lthough App State manufactured a four-run rally of their own in the bottom half of the 6th inning, it was not enough to overcome the large deficit. The loss brought an abrupt end to Appalachian’s five-game winning streak.
Next up for the Mountaineers is a road game at Louisiana-Monroe (4-19 overall) on Friday, March 15 (7:00 pm), the first of a three-game series with the Warhawks in a Sun Belt Conference matchup. App State returns on Wednesday, March 20th for a home encounter vs. East Tennessee State at Sywassink/Lloyd Stadium. First pitch is set for 5:00 pm.