App State baseball burns UNC-Asheville after returning home after series win – The Appalachian


Travis Holshouser

Sophomore right-hander Xander Hamilton throws a pitch during App State’s 11-6 victory over Georgia Southern on March 20, 2022.

App State baseball returned to the field over the weekend, going 2-1 in its series against Sun Belt rival Little Rock Trojans.

The Mountaineers opened the series with a 14-inning battle to earn the opening win 5-2. App State struck first in the third inning with freshman outfielder RJ Johnson throwing a solo shot over the right field wall. It was Johnson’s first career home run. After Little Rock tied it, super senior Andrew Greckel hit a solo bomb in the fourth to tie the game 2-1.

The Mountaineers held the lead well into the bottom of the ninth until Little Rock tied the game, sending it to extra innings. Junior infielder Luke Drumheller froze the game by sending a fly ball into the outfield for a two-run brace. Drumheller scored later in the inning on a single from junior infielder Alex Aguila.

Little Rock responded on Saturday, knocking out the Mountaineers 7-4.

App State took a 1-0 lead early in the game after junior catcher Hayden Cross hit an early single scoring a run in the first inning. After falling behind in the third, freshman catcher Braxton Church hit back with the first hit of his career, hitting a single and scoring the second inning of the Mountaineers game.

App State fell even further behind in the sixth inning when sophomore pitcher Caleb Cross took over from sophomore pitcher Xander Hamilton with one out in the sixth and bases loaded. After striking out the first batter, Cross gave up a two-run double and a two-run single, making the Trojans a 7-2 lead. The Mountaineers added two runs in the seventh but couldn’t come back against the Trojans.

The Black and Gold rebounded Sunday in a 10-5 win after giving up four runs in the first.

The Mountaineers began their battle in the fourth inning after a Drumheller single sent the Mountaineers’ first run home. The scoring continued into the second after doubles from Johnson and Rodgers netted a pair of runs. Greckel walked in the inning and tied the game for the Black and Gold after a wild pitch went past home plate.

App State took the lead in the seventh inning when redshirt freshman infielder Austin St. Laurent scored a brace to the outfield, giving the Mountaineers a 6-4 lead.

The Mountaineers offense spilled out in the eighth. Johnson walked to start the inning and made it to third base after a pair of wild pitches. After walking the next batter, Cross came to the plate and made the Trojans call with an RBI single to tag Johnson. Junior outfielder Phillip Cole followed with a brace into left field to score a deuce, and Drumheller capped the frame with an RBI single to center to make it 10-4.

After a one-day break, App State remained hot on Tuesday as they scorched UNC Asheville 11-1. UNC-Asheville entered the game on a four-game winning streak.

The Mountaineers got the sticks working early with Rogers ripping a triple to score the game’s first inning. App State kept the momentum going, adding two more runs in the second and third innings after Cole and Johnson’s RBIs.

The Mountaineers used a strong seventh inning to pick up the win, scoring five runs in the inning. After a few frenzied throws from the Bulldogs, the Mountaineers had the bases loaded. Dalton Williams, a hard-hitting senior on the pitch, drew a step, pushing another run through. Cross was hit by a wild pitch, closing the round five points for the Mountaineers, reaching the point limit.

Senior pitcher Jason Cornatzer started on the mound for the Mountaineers, striking out six batters in four innings. LaSpaluto replaced the Black and Gold to finish the game, pitching the final three innings and leading App State to victory.

App State returns home to Beaver Field for the weekend in a three-game series against Sun Belt foe Texas State. The first pitch is at 6 p.m. Friday.

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