Phillip Cole blasted a three-run home run, as part of a six-run sixth inning, as the ninth-seeded Mountaineers raced past eighth-seeded Little Rock, 10-3, to advance in the Sun Belt Tournament.
The Mountaineers will face second-seeded Georgia Southern Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET. to begin the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
Tied at 2-2 in the sixth inning, Hayden Cross singled with one out to begin the rally. Dalton Williams then doubled down the right field line, and Dylan Rogers reached on an infield single to load the bases. Andrew Terrell then drew a walk to force in a run, and give the Mountaineers the lead, 3-2.
After RJ Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice, Braxton Church continued the rally with a two-run single through the right side. Then Cole capped the inning with a blast over the left field fence to make it 8-2 App State
Jason Cornatzer started the ballgame for the Mountaineers and struck out a career-high seven, in 3.2 innings of work, allowing just a pair of unearned runs in the third inning. Cornatzer did walk five, but was able to work around trouble, as Little Rock stranded the bases loaded twice in the first four innings.
Caleb Cross relieved Cornatzer in the fourth inning, and went on to work two innings, allowing just one run on one hit, while striking out three. Cameron Kepley followed, striking out the side in the seventh inning on his way to 1.2 scoreless innings and four strikeouts on the night.
Following a 1:49 rain delay in the eighth inning, Grey LaSpaluto took the mound for the Mountaineers, tossing the final 1.2 innings and striking out three. App State combined to strike out a season-high 17 batters on the night.
After falling behind 2-0, App State tied the game in the fifth inning when Terrell and Johnson laced back-to-back doubles, and Johnson scored on a wild pitch.
App State added on insurance runs late. In the seventh, with Andrew Greckel and Hayden Cross in scoring position following a pair of walks to begin the inning, Rogers ripped a line drive off the Trojan shortstop to score Greckel from third base. In the eighth, Greckel cracked a line drive single into right, scoring Church who led off the inning with a walk, to make it 10-3.
At the plate, the Mountaineers tallied 11 hits on the night, including four for extra-bases, with eight different players recording a hit.
Winning a game in the Sun Belt tournament for the second consecutive season, the Mountaineers will face second seeded Georgia Southern, Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.