Former utility infielder Rene Gonzales, he of the lifetime .239 average, posted a 1.479 OPS in 24 plate appearances against Randy Johnson. Maybe it's the small sample size, or maybe Gonzalez just owned the Big Unit. Maybe it's the sample size, or maybe Appalachian State centerfielder Jaylen Davis just has Carlos Rodon's number. In two games against Rodon, Davis is 3-for-7 with a two-run single and a pair of three-run bombs. Davis drove in all five of ASU's runs in Friday's series opener against N.C. State, but it wasn't enough for the Mountaineers, who dropped an error-filled game 6-5.
The Pack (4-1) plated six runs on just six hits with help from four Appalachian errors. State scored a run in the first without a ball leaving the infield thanks to a couple of infield hits, but Davis's two-out, two-run single put ASU (0-5) in the lead in the top of the third.
Bubba Riley, who had State's lone multiple-hit game, delivered a clutch two-out double to knot the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the third. Riley followed Trea Turner reaching on an error with his second double of the game to put the Pack up 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth. It was the first of three unearned runs coughed up by the shoddy Mountaineer D. Riley finished 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.
Sean Mason looked like he would play the hero for ASU when he entered the game with runners on second and third and one out and fanned Turner, but then Mason threw away a check-swing comebacker off Riley's bat that extended the inning and allowed the first of two unearned runs to score (an earned run had already made its way home earlier in the inning). Riley and Brett Austin, who was 1-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored, pulled off a double steal to tack on the second unearned run of the inning and put the Pack up 6-2. Without the errors leading to the insurance, it's likely a very different outcome.
But, even though the Pack's own shoddy defense made it hard for Rodon to shut the door, the home team held on. Preston Troutman led off the eighth with a double down the right field line that snuck under Jake Armstrong's glove. Andrew Knizner's second error of the game put runners on the corners with nobody out for Davis, who deposited a flat and fat slider 3,000 feet over the leftfield wall, narrowing the good guys' advantage to a lone run.
Rodon (1-1) got through the rest of the eighth unscathed and finished his outing allowing five hits, five runs (three earned), and two walks to go with nine strikeouts. He has a 2.57 ERA through two starts, which is solid, but his 5-to-1 K-to-BB ratio and .173 opponents' batting average suggest that he's been a bit better than that.
D.J. Thomas came on for Rodon and pounded the strike zone, throwing nine of his 10 pitches for strikes. He got a couple of strikeouts but, unfortunately, a two-strike hit from William Head was sandwiched in between. Andrew Woeck came on for the righty-righty matchup and got Bradley Morton to fly out to end the game. Woeck earned his first save of the season.
Davis, by the way, had all of one hit this year before today's game and batted just .257 last year. Two of his five career dingers have come at the expense of Rodon. Sports!
The teams go back at it Saturday at 1 p.m. If the early-season rotation holds for both teams, we should see side-arming Tyler Moore (who was coached by Omega Wolf in high school) face wild thing Logan Jernigan. Moore has had a nice career as a reliever at App but struggled big time against Arkansas in front of a crowd of over 8,000 in his first career start on Feb. 15th. Moore fanned the only batter he faced in ASU's 6-3 win over N.C. State to start the 2013 season. The Mountaineers, who have faced nothing but ACC and SEC competition, will be looking for their first win after a pair of one-run losses and a two-run setback in their first five games. The game is available for your viewing pleasure on ESPN The Ocho.