Mountaineers open season with three-game sweep


Courtesy of Lauren Francis, App State Athletics

Senior utility player Andrew Terrell and redshirt sophomore infielder Austin St. Laurent celebrate during App State’s 5-2 victory over Queens Feb. 17, 2023.

Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor

App State baseball opened its 2023 season with a three-game sweep for the first time since March 2021. 

The Mountaineers hosted Queens University in Hickory at L.P. Frans Stadium for a weekend series and began with a 5-2 Friday statement victory highlighted by redshirt sophomore infielder Austin St. Laurent’s first-inning two-run home run. 

“Starting off, I got an off-speed pitch, and we were working on staying through the ball and being able to get it up and get it out. Riding third and seeing all the guys was electric,” St. Laurent said.

The other three runs were scored in the third inning as St. Laurent, junior outfielder Xavier Moronta and senior catcher Hayden Cross all scored runs. Junior right-handed pitcher Xander Hamilton got the starting nod, pitched five innings, struck out six Queens batters and allowed two earned runs. 

“Our pitching staff is phenomenal,” St. Laurent said. “Xander going out is the easiest guy to play behind. You sit there, watch him do his thing and play well behind him.”

Right-handed pitcher Caleb Cross came into relief pitch for three innings, totaling five strikeouts and giving up two hits. In the ninth inning, freshman right-handed pitcher Jackson Steensma struck out the side and recorded a save in his first collegiate appearance.

Saturday, the Mountaineers rolled to a victory with a 5-2 score and an offensive showcase with 12 hits. Hayden Cross led the way with two hits, two RBIs and one run in his three at-bats. All five App State runs came in the third and fourth innings, as Hayden Cross had an RBI double in the fourth inning.

“We were looking for fastballs,” Hayden Cross said. “I was talking to Coach Smith before that I might need to go backside, and he told me to go ahead and pull the trigger to the pull side, and I got a fastball that I can hit.”

Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Wilson Bradley was on the mound to start and pitched a five-inning shutout, allowing one hit. With his performance, Bradley was credited with the win as he struck out three Queens batters. Junior right-handed pitcher Dante Chirico relieved Bradley and pitched to the end of the game. Chirico was credited with the save and gave up two earned runs in his four innings pitched. 

“They looked really good,” Hayden Cross said. “Three hits, not really much you can say. We can probably do a better job at throwing strikes and little less walk., Overall, I thought they did a fantastic job.”

In the series’ final game, App States excelled with 11 hits as the Mountaineers brought home a 13-5 victory to complete the three-game sweep. 

The Mountaineers first at-bat of the game was homered by senior utility player Andrew Terrell, and later in the inning, Moronta homered to right field. 

Scoring for App State came in early bunches as the Mountaineers outscored Queens 11-1 after four innings. Terrell homered again to left center in the second inning to become the first Mountaineer since May 17, 2019, to have a multi-home run game. 

“Putting two great swings on it,” Terrell said. “Seeing the ball a lot better today.”

Sophomore utility player CJ Boyd and Hayden Cross each had two hits and three RBIs as they were part of the five Mountaineer batters with multi-hit games. App State’s pitchers struck out 11 batters, with five strikeouts from junior left-handed pitcher Ryan Sleeper.

“Great job by the pitching staff,” Terrell said. “The whole team, honestly. It starts in the dugout. Our guys had a lot of energy this weekend and came out with three Ws.”

The Mountaineers will look to improve on their 3-0 start to the season with a road trip to High Point Tuesday at 4 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

“We need to ride this momentum into this week and next weekend,” Terrell said.