Baseball Wins Series Over No. 23 South Alabama

Published Monday, April 18, 2016 at 11:14 am

Freshman Colin Schmid allowed one run over seven innings and picked up the first win of his career on Sunday versus No. 23 South Alabama. Photo courtesy Rob Moore / App State Athletics

True freshman Colin Schmid tallied a career-high nine strikeouts, sophomore Tyler Stroup hit a two-run homer and Appalachian State University baseball claimed the second series win over a nationally ranked opponent in school history with Sunday’s 4-3 triumph over No. 23 South Alabama at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.

Combined with Friday’s 4-3 win over the 23rd-ranked Jaguars, Sunday’s victory gave Appalachian State (10-26, 5-13 Sun Belt) a two-games-to-one win over South Alabama (27-10, 16-2 Sun Belt) in this weekend’s Sun Belt Conference series. The only other time that App State has won a series over a nationally ranked opponent came in 2012 when the Mountaineers took 2-of-3 games at No. 7 LSU.

Also, with its two victories over No. 23 USA, Appalachian owns 11 wins over nationally ranked teams since 2011, including six in four seasons under head coach Billy Jones.

Schmid turned in his third-straight impressive start on Sunday. The rookie southpaw struck out nine in seven innings of work (both career highs) and allowed only one run.

His only shaky moment came in the third inning when South Alabama opened the stanza with a single, walk, another single and a fielder’s choice, which left the bases loaded with nobody out and a run already in. The Jaguars’ run cut App State’s early 3-0 lead to 3-1. South Alabama’s fifth batter of the inning, Ben Gann, hit a fly ball to medium-deep center field that was caught by freshman center fielder Tanner Mann-Fix for an apparent sacrifice fly. However, Mann-Fix unloaded a terrific throw to home plate that was corralled slightly up the third-base line by sophomore catcher Chandler Seagle. Seagle held on to the ball after a huge collision with USA’s Jared Barnes to complete a spectacular 8-2 double play. Schmid struck out the next batter to end the inning and keep Appalachian State’s 3-1 lead intact.

Beginning with the marvelous double play in the third, Schmid retired 13-straight and 16 of the last 17 batters that he faced before being lifted in favor of sophomore Reed Howell in the eighth.

Brought on to protect what had become a 4-1 lead, Howell surrendered a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Brendan Donovan but sat down the final two batters of the inning to send the Mountaineers to the ninth with a 4-3 advantage.

Closer Brian Bauk came on in the ninth and, despite one runner reaching on a third strike that scooted past Seagle and another getting aboard on an error, nailed down his third save of the season. In the process, Bauk became the first Mountaineer to strike out four batters in an inning since current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim farmhand Nate Hyatt accomplished the rare feat at Georgia Southern on March 13, 2012.

Appalachian State opened the scoring with an RBI groundout by Mann-Fix in the first and extended its lead to 3-0 on Stroup’s towering blast in the second. Stroup’s third homer of the season cleared the bullpen beyond the right field fence and landed among the pine trees on the other side of the service road that bounds Smith Stadium’s outfield.

Seagle scored what proved to be the winning run in the sixth when he led off with a double and came home two batters later on a double by senior Caleb McCann.

Playing second base for the first time in his four-year career, McCann (2-for-4, RBI, run) was one of three Mountaineers with two hits on Sunday. Bauk (2-for-4) and Conner Leonard (2-for-3, HBP) also had two hits for App State, which finished with nine hits as a team.

Schmid (1-6) was finally rewarded for a solid performance with his first career win. Over his last three starts (April 3 vs. Little Rock, last Sunday at Troy and Sunday vs. South Alabama), Schmid has allowed only three runs on 13 hits and struck out 16 over 19.2 innings.

Appalachian State chased South Alabama Austin Bembnowski from the game after two innings. The Mountaineers torched the right-handed fifth-year senior for three runs on four hits over his two innings of work and handed him his first loss of the season (4-1).

Drew LaBounty (2-for-5) and Matt Bolger (2-for-4) accounted for four of the Jaguars’ seven hits.

App State closes a four-game homestand on Tuesday night when they host longtime local rival Wake Forest. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Smith Stadium.

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