App State took an early lead against No. 17 East Carolina for the second straight day, but the Pirates erased their deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning and added some late insurance in a 5-2 victory against the Mountaineers on Saturday.
The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. in Clark-LeClair Stadium.
App State (6-4) put up two runs in the top of the third inning as Bailey Welch singled, moved to third on Andrew Terrell’s ground-rule double and scored on Luke Drumheller’s groundout. Terrell then sprinted home on a sac fly to right by Phillip Cole.
App State’s Quinton Martinez and Noah Hall pitched four innings apiece, with Martinez shutting out the Pirates for the first four innings and Hall giving up a pair of hard-luck runs to the Pirates (8-2) in the seventh and eighth innings.
After allowing the first two East Carolina batters of the game to reach, Martinez retired the next eight. The Mountaineers were ahead 2-0 before Ben Newton and Connor Norby hit back-to-back homers to open the bottom of the fifth, and two runners were aboard when Alec Makarewicz greeted a newly entered Hall with an RBI single.
A walk loaded the bases with nobody out still, but Hall recorded a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch and then induced a 4-6-3 double play involving Drumheller, Welch and Young. Hall got out of a two-on, one-out threat in the sixth thanks to a strikeout and groundout.
East Carolina runners were at the corners with one out in the seventh, and catcher Hayden Cross fired to second to erase a steal attempt that turned into a rundown. The Pirates’ runner at third broke for home and scored following an errant throw back toward third.
Consecutive one-out singles for the Pirates in the eighth put runners at the corners, as a diving attempt at a hard ground ball was unsuccessful in keeping the lead runner at second, and he scored in the next at-bat on a groundout to third baseman Trent Lewis, who made a nice play in his first defensive chance off the bench.
Hard-throwing, highly touted righty Gavin Williams picked up the win in relief by throwing four hitless innings leading up to the ninth, and C.J. Mayhue earned the save.