App State baseball scorches UNC-Asheville after returning home from series win


Travis Holshouser

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

Ben Gosey, Reporter

App State baseball returned to the diamond 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 capture the first win 5-2. App State struck first in the third inning with freshman outfielder RJ Johnson blasting a solo shot over the right field wall. This was Johnson’s first career home run. After Little Rock tied it, super senior Andrew Greckel hit a solo bomb in the fourth to untie the game 2-1. 

The Mountaineers maintained the lead into the bottom of the ninth until Little Rock tied the game, sending it to extra innings. Junior infielder Luke Drumheller iced the game as he drove a ball into the outfield for a two-run double. Drumheller scored later in the inning thanks to a single from junior infielder Alex Aguila. 

Little Rock responded Saturday, taking down the Mountaineers 7-4. 

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

App State fell further behind in the sixth inning when sophomore pitcher Caleb Cross took over for sophomore pitcher Xander Hamilton with one out in the sixth and bases loaded. After striking out the first batter, Cross surrendered a two-run double and a two-run single, extending the Trojans’ lead to 7-2. The Mountaineers added two runs in the seventh but could not come back against the Trojans. 

The Black and Gold bounced back Sunday in a 10-5 comeback win after surrendering four runs in the first. 

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

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

The Mountaineers’ offense poured it on in the eighth. Johnson walked to lead off 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 pay with an RBI-single to score Johnson. Junior outfielder Phillip Cole followed with a double into left field to score two, and Drumheller capped the frame with an RBI-single to center to make it 10-4. 

After a one-day break, App State stayed hot Tuesday as they scorched UNC Asheville 11-1. UNC-Asheville came into the game on a four-game win streak.

The Mountaineers had the bats working early with Rogers ripping a triple to score the first run of the game. App State kept the momentum, adding two more runs in both the second and third innings after RBI’s from Cole and Johnson. 

The Mountaineers used a strong seventh inning to capture the win, scoring five runs in the inning.  After some wild pitches from the Bulldogs, the Mountaineers had the bases loaded. Pitch-hitting senior Dalton Williams drew a walk, pushing another run across. Cross was hit by a wild pitch, capping off the five-run inning for the Mountaineers, reaching the run limit. 

Senior pitcher Jason Cornatzer started on the mound for the Mountaineers, retiring six batters through four innings. LaSpaluto came in for the Black and Gold to finish the game, pitching the final three innings and leading App State to the win. 

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.