High Point's Kyle Brandenburg drove in the winning run with an RBI double in the top of the ninth inning and Appalachian State University baseball suffered its ninth one-run defeat of the season in a 6-5 loss to HPU on Tuesday night at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Appalachian State (11-19) fell into a 4-1 hole after three-and-a-half innings but battled back to take a 5-4 lead with three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. However, High Point (19-13) tied it on a solo homer by Brandenburg in the seventh and won it on his RBI double to straightaway center field in the ninth.
The fateful top of the ninth began with Appalachian State reliever Taylor Thurber (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) walking HPU's No. 9 hitter, Chris Clare. Clare moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored easily on Brandenburg's one-out double that sailed over the head of Appalachian center fielder Jaylin Davis (McLeansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford) and one-hopped the wall.
After Thurber retired High Point's final two batters in the top of the ninth, the Mountaineers put the tying run on base with one out in the bottom of the frame when William Head (Asheville, N.C./Asheville) drew a four-pitch walk. However, pinch-hitter Alex Leach (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) struck out for the second out of the inning and with leadoff hitter Tyler Stroup (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) at the plate, Head was caught trying to steal his way into scoring position to end the game.
Appalachian State opened the scoring on Matt Brill's (Coal Valley, Ill./Moline) RBI single in the bottom of the second inning but High Point scored four times in the top of the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. HPU hit only one ball out of the infield in its four-run fourth but had three infield singles during the wacky frame.
Highlighted by a two-run single by Stroup, Appalachian answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to knot the score at 4-4. An inning later, Brill drove in another run with his third hit of the evening to give the Mountaineers a 5-4 advantage.
However, Brandenburg wound up being the difference in the game. HPU's third baseman finished 4-for-5 with three RBI, including a run-scoring infield single in the fourth, the game-tying homer in the seventh and the deciding RBI double in the ninth.
Brandenburg's heroics overshadowed another impressive performance by Brill, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and raised his batting average to .404 on the season. The true freshman also extended his team-best hitting streak to 12 games. He is hitting an other-worldly .477 (21-for-44) during the 12-game streak.
Dobson, the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week, and Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) added two hits apiece for the Mountaineers.
Appalachian State continues a four-game homestand this weekend when it hosts a three-game SoCon series versus The Citadel. Game times are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Smith Stadium.
NOTES: Each of Appalachian State's last three losses have come by one run … the Mountaineers fell to 2-9 in one-run games this season … the loss snapped Appalachian's four-game winning streak versus High Point … the Mountaineers are 12-3 in their last 15 meetings with HPU … new Appalachian State men's basketball head coach Jim Fox threw out the ceremonial first pitch … Fox, a former baseball player and avid fan, threw from the rubber and his delivery had plenty of steam but was high and out of the zone … game-time temperature was a chilly 48 degrees and the wind-chill factor dipped into the 30s as the blustery evening progressed.