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Xavier Moronta
Xavier Moronta went two-for-three batting with a run scored and an RBI.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Baseball Picks Up Another Sun Belt Conference Series Win

For the first time since joining the Sun Belt in 2015, the App State Baseball team has begun conference play with three consecutive series wins, defeating Louisiana, 8-5, at Russo Park, Saturday, to take the first two games of the weekend set.

Luke Drumheller set the tone early, blasting a three-run home run in the top of the first inning to put the Mountaineers (15-10, 6-2) in front, before Louisiana had recorded an out. Xavier Moronta reached on an error to begin the ballgame, and Austin St. Laurant singled to the hole at shortstop, ahead of Drumheller’s second home run of the season.

Meanwhile on the mound, Bradley Wilson (win, 2-2) enjoyed his best start as a Mountaineer. Following 18 strikeouts from App State pitching on Friday night, Wilson matched a career-high with six strikeouts over six innings of work on Saturday. The right-hander allowed just two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits and two walks in his outing.

The Mountaineer defense turned a pair of critical double-play balls in the ballgame, one behind Wilson in the fifth inning, and another two frames later to help Collin Welch through a scoreless seventh inning of work.

After adding a run in the second inning on a balk, the Mountaineers plated two more in the top of the fifth. Moronta singled through the shift to begin the inning, and St. Laurent followed with a double off the center field fence to put two runners in scoring position. After a walk to Drumheller loaded the bases, Hayden Cross looped an RBI single to right field and Golston Gillespie followed with an RBI groundout to put App State ahead 6-2.

The Mountaineers added an insurance run in the eighth. Alex Aguila reached on a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on an Andrew Terrell single, before coming into score on a sac fly from Moronta.

Louisiana trimmed into the deficit with a three-run home run from John Taylor in the eighth inning to make it 7-5.

App State responded in the bottom of the eighth inning as Gillespie cranked a solo home run to left field, his tenth of the season, to put the Mountaineers ahead, 8-5.

After Dante Chirico came on to get the final out of the eighth inning with a strikeout, App State turned to Jackson Steensma (save, 5) for the ninth. He loaded the bases but was able to escape the jam, getting a flyout to secure the win.

Moronta, St. Laurent, Drumheller, and Terrell all finished with two-hit games, while Terrell stole his tenth base on the season, the most by a Mountaineer since 2019. The victory also marked the first series win against Louisiana since the 2019 season.

The Mountaineers will go for the series sweep on Sunday, with first pitch from Lafayette set for 2 p.m. ET. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN+.