The Runnin’ Bulldogs (28-25) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, loading the bases to start the game and getting an RBI groundout from Scott Coleman for the early margin.
Appalachian State (37-12) took the lead for good in the bottom half of the first, scoring three runs on two hits and taking advantage of a catcher’s interference play to go up 3-1. Gardner-Webb pulled within one run in the top of the fourth, when Brad Collins scored on a wild pitch following a strikeout.
The Mountaineers got that run back in the bottom of the fourth and went up 5-2 in the fifth when Daniel Kassouf reached on an error that allowed Tyler Zupcic to score with two outs.
Collins got the Runnin’ Bulldogs on the board again in the sixth, leading off the inning with a solo home run to left for a 5-3 score. The blast was the fifth of the season for Collins, setting a new career-high. Gardner-Webb got a single from Adam McFarland and a walk to Henry Rundio following Collins’ long ball to threaten, but the Mountaineers’ bullpen got out of that jam with a fly ball and back-to-back strikeouts.
Gardner-Webb went down in order in the seventh, but got the tying run to the dish twice in the final two innings. Rundio collected a two-out single to give Gardner-Webb life in the eighth and Zeke Blanton reached base to lead off the ninth when he was hit by a pitch. Both times the Mountaineers were able to keep the tying run off base.
Brock Wilson (4-3) took the loss for the ‘Dogs, allowing three earned runs in five innings. The big righty scattered six hits and fanned four. Matt Fraudin, Jimmy Moore and Jeff Howell each pitched scoreless frames for the Runnin’ Bulldogs to close out the game and keep GWU within striking distance.
Gardner-Webb had seven hits in the game, with Collins (2-for-4, HR, RBI) and McFarland (2-for-3) leading that charge. GWU stranded nine runners.
Jeffrey Springs (2-0) got the win, working 3.0 predetermined innings and allowing just one run on three hits for Appalachian State. Nathan Hyatt worked a scoreless ninth to pick up the save. Zupcic went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored to pace the Mountaineers’ seven-hit effort at the plate.
Gardner-Webb will get back to Big South Conference action quickly, traveling to UNC Asheville on Thursday to begin a three-game series. Thursday’s first pitch is set for 3:00 pm.