A solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a 4-4 tie and proved to be the winning run in Western Carolina’s 7-4 victory over Appalachian State University baseball on Sunday afternoon at Hennon Stadium.
Appalachian State (16-29, 9-11 SoCon) rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to knot the score at 4-4 with four runs in the top of the fourth inning. Dillon Dobson (Hamptonville, N.C./Starmount) kick-started the rally with a two-run homer to left-center field. The opposite-field blast was Dobson’s second of the weekend, his fifth in the last six games and his team-leading 11th of the season.
Following Dobson’s homer, Jaylin Davis (McLeansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford) cut the deficit to 4-3 with an RBI single to center and Zach Hummel (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) pulled the Mountaineers even with a run-scoring fielder’s choice.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the fifth when Western Carolina’s Dakota Speiss hit a two-out, solo homer to right-center field that gave WCU a 5-4 lead. The Catamounts stretched the advantage to 7-4 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Appalachian didn’t go down without a fight, as it brought the would-be tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings. However, the Mountaineers stranded a pair of baserunners in each frame and lost for the seventh time in their last nine Southern Conference games.
Dobson and Michael Pierson (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) had two hits apiece to lead Appalachian State’s eight-hit attack.
Western Carolina (32-14, 16-4 SoCon) got multiple hits from four different players, highlighted by Jacob Hoyle, who went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
After a week off for final exams, sixth-place Appalachian State returns to action next weekend when it visits third-place Samford (28-20, 12-9 SoCon) for another key Southern Conference series. The three-game set begins Friday at 7 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Ala.
NOTES: Barring potential matchups in the SoCon softball or baseball tournaments, Sunday’s game was the final contest between Appalachian State and Western Carolina as SoCon rivals in any sport, as Appalachian officially joins the Sun Belt Conference on July 1 ... Pierson has hit safely in 18 of the last 20 games and has reached base in 20-straight ... Dobson’s 11 home runs are tied for 16th in Appalachian State single-season history ... he needs just one more homer to move into Appalachian’s all-time single-season top 10 ... the SoCon series sweep was the first that Appalachian State has suffered this season ... with two regular-season series remaining, the Mountaineers are percentage points ahead of UNCG (21-21, 8-10 SoCon) for the sixth and final guaranteed spot in the double-elimination portion of the SoCon Tournament, which begins on May 21 in Charleston, S.C. ... the teams that finish seventh-10th in the SoCon standings must survive a single-elimination play-in round on May 20 to occupy the final two spots in the double-elimination bracket.