Timely, tiebreaking homers coupled with top-flight pitching led App State to a doubleheader sweep of Winthrop by scores of 4-1 and 4-0 as the Mountaineers opened their 2021 season Saturday.
Luke Drumheller’s three-run, two-out homer in the seventh inning of Game 1 broke a 1-1 tie, and Game 2 was scoreless before Phillip Cole hit a two-run, two-out homer in the sixth inning.
Four App State pitchers combined to allow one run on eight hits (all singles) while amassing 16 strikeouts. Game 1 starter Tyler Tuthill allowed one run in 5.1 innings before giving way to Noah Hall, who earned the win, and Quinton Martinez faced just one batter over the minimum while pitching seven shutout innings in the longest outing of his App State career. Jason Cornatzer struck out four batters over the final two innings of Game 2, when the Eagles didn’t have a runner reach third base.
Facing a team that went 11-4 last season and is picked to finish second in the Big South Conference this year, App State recorded a shutout win as part of a 2-0 start for the first time in 10 years.
The Mountaineers picked up a victory in their season opener for the first time since 2013, when App State won 6-3 at NC State thanks to Jaylin Davis’ three-run homer in his first college at-bat. That homer came against another future MLB player in pitcher Carlos Rodon.
GAME 1 RECAP
A dramatic three-run homer and a dominant pitching performance gave App State a 4-1 victory in the opener.
Drumheller broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning with a three-run, two-out homer that scored Jack Lipson and Alex Leshock. Hall picked up the win as he and Tuthill allowed just the one run on three hits while combining for eight strikeouts.
App State took an immediate lead behind a first-inning single from Andrew Terrell, who scored on Dalton Williams’ sacrifice fly.
Tuthill departed with a 1-0 lead, one out in the sixth and two runners on base. Hall gave up a game-tying single on his first pitch in relief, but that was the only hit he allowed in 3.2 innings.
Hall and Tuthill both struck out four batters, and Hall retired 11 of the 13 batters he faced. He opened the bottom of the ninth inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
The biggest defensive play of the game came from shortstop Bailey Welch, who made a leaping catch of a line drive with runners at the corners and two away in the fifth. With two out and runners at the corners shortly after Winthrop’s game-tying single in the sixth, Lipson threw out an attempted steal of second.
Terrell went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, and Cole was responsible for one of App State’s four hits. Drumheller’s homer produced three unearned runs, as Lipson drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a throwing error to that base following Leshock’s grounder to first. Two flyouts preceded Drumheller’s homer.
GAME 2 RECAP
Martinez and Cornatzer struck out four batters apiece during a win in which the Mountaineers scored twice in the sixth and eighth innings.
With the help of two double plays and one rundown that turned into an unsuccessful steal attempt, Martinez allowed one just baserunner to get into scoring position during his seven innings of work.
Martinez made four starts last year in his first season with the Mountaineers, and he allowed one run in six innings during both of his 2020 wins. Cornatzer appeared in a combined 28 games during his first two seasons at App State and pitched in a live game for the first time since starting in the Sun Belt Conference tournament on May 21, 2019.
Drumheller walked, stole second on a strikeout and moved to third on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth inning with the game still scoreless. He was still at third with two away after new pitcher Aaron White recorded a strikeout in relief of starter Tyler Jones, but Cole responded with a two-run shot over the fence in left field to highlight a 2-for-3 night that included one walk.
The Mountaineers added to their lead when pinch-runner Peyton Idol and Cole both scored on a throwing error that followed Robbie Young’s bunt single to the left side of the infield. Dalton Williams had opened the frame with a walk, and Idol was safe at second on a fielder’s choice involving Cole.
Defensively, Terrell made a diving catch in left field, and Young made a key pick-up at first to complete one of App State’s double plays.