Down to not only its last out, but its last strike, App State completed a rally on the road and left ETSU with a 5-4 victory Tuesday night.
The Mountaineers (3-1) trailed 4-1 before scoring once in the seventh inning, once in the eighth and twice in the top of the ninth. Facing a 2-2 count with the bases loaded and two away in App State’s final at-bat, Phillip Cole drilled a clean single up the middle to bring home Bailey Welch and Kendall McGowan.
Noah Hall improved to 2-0 this season by holding ETSU (2-2) scoreless over the final two innings. He pitched a perfect eighth but ran into some trouble in the bottom of the ninth, giving up a hard-luck infield single along the third-base line with one out and then issuing a walk on a 3-2 pitch.
Freshman third baseman Trent Lewis, who had made his App State debut as a defensive substitute in the eighth inning, handled a 5-3 groundout to open the bottom of the ninth and then caught a line drive for the second out. Welch fielded a grounder at short and threw to second baseman Luke Drumheller for a forceout to end the game.
During this 3-1 start, App State has outscored its opponents 10-2 in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings combined. The Mountaineers return to action Friday at North Carolina A&T and play their home opener Saturday against the Aggies.
The first five innings were about power at the plate, as McGowan opened the game with a solo homer to left. Finishing the game with just five hits, ETSU had only three through five innings — a solo homer in the fourth, a tiebreaking solo homer in the fifth and a two-run homer later in that same frame.
App State cut its deficit to 4-2 in the seventh as Alex Leshock drew a two-out walk and scored on Welch’s double to left-center.
An inning later, Drumheller was hit by a pitch to open the eighth. He moved to second on a groundout, reached third on Andrew Greckel’s single to center and scored on a pinch-hit single by Dalton Williams in a lefty-lefty matchup with reliever Matthew Mercer.
Andrew Terrell opened the ninth with a pinch-hit single to center and advanced to second on Leshock’s sacrifice bunt. Welch’s infield single put runners at the corners for McGowan, who hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Terrell at the plate.
Drumheller singled to a diving second baseman, who prevented the tying run from potentially scoring by knocking the ball down. Cole fouled off a 1-2 pitch before taking a ball and then turning a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.
Welch went 3-for-4 as App State totaled 12 hits, and the Mountaineers used seven pitchers on a midweek “staff” day. Cam Roberts (two innings) and Shane Roberts (one inning) kept ETSU scoreless for the first three innings, while Eli Ellington and Cy Smith combined for 2.2 scoreless innings prior to Hall’s entrance.