ATHENS, Ga. – Appalachian State used a five-run sixth inning to earn an 8-5 victory and a series split with Georgia on Wednesday evening at Foley Field.
The Bulldogs (8-9) used seven different pitchers during the game, with freshman Austin Wallace taking the loss in his collegiate debut as a starter. Wallace gave up four hits and three runs in 1.2 innings of work, while reliever Jeffrey Springs earned the win for Appalachian State (9-5) after going two innings with no runs allowed. Taylor Thurber earned his first save of the season for the Mountaineers, pitching the final four frames.
Offensively, sophomore Justin Bryan launched a solo home run for Georgia in the eighth inning, his second home run in as many days. Nelson Ward went 2-5 with two runs scored, while Kyle Farmer went 1-4 with two RBIs.
“It’s frustrating,” said Georgia head coach David Perno. “We’ve had some tough losses, but this is probably the most disappointing one. We think we’re over the hump, and then we give up two big innings. The thing is, we didn’t walk that many tonight, but we’re still finding a way not to be successful. It’s disappointing. The mid-week games have eaten us alive this year, but I haven’t been down on this team all year. We’re making progress, but there’s just no excuse for this effort tonight. We have a chance to get over .500 for the second time in three days, and guys just don’t step up.”
The Mountaineers scored in the first inning off an RBI single to right and a two-run homer by Dillon Dobson. In the bottom of the inning, Ward extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a leadoff double deep to center. Two fielding errors – one by the third-baseman and one by the left fielder – on a hard-hit ball by Farmer allowed Ward to score, trimming Appalachian State’s lead to 3-1.
Patrick Boling took over on the mound for Georgia following Wallace’s appearance, lasting 2.1 innings while not allowing any runs or hits and recording four strikeouts. Despite drawing four walks through the first four innings, Georgia stranded six runners without putting a run on the board in the second, third and fourth innings.
Palmer Betts came on in relief for Georgia in the fifth, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one. In the bottom of the fifth, Powell recorded a leadoff double down the left field line, extending his team-leading hitting streak to 13 games. Powell advanced to third on a balk and eventually scored on a passed ball, pulling the Bulldogs to within a run at 3-2.
In the top of the sixth, Georgia’s Bryan Benzor gave up five runs on four hits and a pair of walks while recording one out, as Appalachian State extended their lead to 8-4. Jarrett Brown came in to finish the inning for the Bulldogs, allowing just one hit while striking out one over 1.2 total innings.
Zack Bowers and Bryan led off the sixth with back-to-back walks before Appalachian State brought in Taylor Thurber in relief. After pinch-hitter Sean McLaughlin reached on a fielder’s choice and Ward laid down a bunt for a base hit, Powell reached base on a fielder’s choice that forced Bowers out at home plate. Farmer followed with a two-RBI single to right to plate McLaughlin and Ward, trimming the Moutaineers’ lead to 8-4.
After a scoreless seventh inning by both teams, sophomore Heath Holder took over pitching duties for the Bulldogs in the eighth, allowing no runs and two hits. In the bottom half of the frame, Bryan’s leadoff solo home run brought Georgia within three at 8-5.
Ross Ripple took the mound for the Bulldogs in the top of the ninth, notching two strikeouts and not allowing any hits or runs. Hunter Cole reached on an error in the bottom of the ninth, but a double-play ball ended the game.
Georgia opens SEC play this weekend when they travel to College Station, Texas, to take on Texas A&M. The first game of the series is set for Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET.