Mountaineers trip Panthers, 8-5
Helped by more relaxed breathing techniques, Appalachian State starter Chad Farmer enjoyed one of the best starts of his career Tuesday.
Thanks to a self-inflicted mistake, High Point University helped Farmer breathe easier.
Farmer, a junior from Georgia who is the Mountaineers’ midweek starter, came into the game with an ERA of 4.87 and had not gone more than seven innings in any of his previous outings this season, held the Panthers to a run into the ninth and helped key an 8-5 nonconference win at Williard Stadium.
“They helped me with my breathing and I was trying to keep a steady tempo,” Farmer said. “The breathing thing helps you with your timing more than you imagine. A big exhale and you relax instead of throwing a lot of tension.”
The Panthers (18-20) helped relieve the tension when left fielder Stephen Wytiaz dropped a pop fly in fourth, opening the door for the Mountaineers (21-11) to score six runs and take a 7-0 lead. The miscue allowed two runs to score. Appalachian then got a run-scoring single that was the end for starter Sean Townsley. Jared Avidon then allowed three straight run-scoring singles before getting the third out.
“We don’t make a play and they have a six-run inning and six unearned runs are normally going to beat you,” HPU coach Craig Cozart said. “But you’ve got to give them credit. They stacked a bunch of hits together after we made the error. And Chad Farmer was outstanding tonight.”
Wytiaz, who was hitting .545 in a limited role, was making his second start of the season as reward for a torrid offensive effort last weekend in a sweep of Radford.
“He’s been a good defender for us, but at the college level, you should be able to catch a pop fly,” Cozart said. “But as much as he did for us offensively against Radford and with a lefthander on the mound, we felt we needed another right-handed stick in the lineup.”
Farmer didn’t allow a Panther past second until Dave McDermott led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder to short by Ryan Retz in the sixth. HPU didn’t threaten again until Farmer ran out of gas in the ninth and gave up four straight singles, the last one a two-run shot by Willie Medina that scored pinch-runner Adam Barry and Sean Wilson.
Josh Wilson replaced Farmer. McDermott, who went 3 for 5, lashed a single and went to second on a error, scoring Dominic Fazio and Medina. With the late inning trouble, Farmer wound up allowing nine runs and five hits. He also struck out seven and walked one.
“It was an adrenaline rush,” Farmer said of going past the seventh. “Your body is tired, but you are still going full-throttle. ... At the end, I just got tired. I wish I could have capped it off but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
Cozart thought the Panthers also hurt themselves in trying to get to Farmer.
“I would have liked to have seen us engage earlier offensively,” Cozart said. “But the complexion of the game changed with the error. You drop a pop-up with two outs and that’s a huge emotional letdown. It takes a lot of inner fortitude to come back from that.
“I don’t think we ever quit. But, we tried to press offensively. We tried to do things we’re not capable of doing, like hit the ball out of the park when we have only five home runs all season, instead of stacking hits together.”
HPU hosts N.C. Central today while the Mountaineers face Campbell at Finch Field.