App State used a strong outing from starting pitcher Quinton Martinez and a five-RBI day at the plate from second baseman Luke Drumheller to claim an 8-3 victory over Arkansas State and secure the series win Saturday at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
The series win is the Mountaineers’ first to open Sun Belt play after joining the league in 2015.
Martinez went eight innings and allowed three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. He did not allow a baserunner for five consecutive innings between the first and seventh frames.
App State’s starting pitchers have lasted seven and eight innings in the first two games of the series, respectively. The Mountaineers (9-8, 2-0 SBC) have used just four total pitchers, giving head coach Kermit Smith’s team a multitude of fresh arms for Sunday’s series finale.
“Quinton and Tut [Friday starter Tyler Tuthill] did great jobs starting out our weekend,” Smith said. “Quinton made a lot of really big pitches against a really good offense.
“Anytime you go into Sun Belt play and you’ve got the series wrapped up on Saturday, you’ve got to feel really good about where you are.”
App State scored an efficient eight runs on nine hits thanks in large part to the clutch hitting of Drumheller. The junior from Charlotte blasted a three-run home run over the right field fence in the fifth inning. When he came up next in the sixth, he drove in two more with a double down the right field line.
Leadoff hitter Peyton Idol, in his first start of the season, went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and an RBI. Shortstop Bailey Welch reached base four times, finishing 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs and an RBI.
Both teams scored once in the first inning. It remained a pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the fifth, when App State tacked on three runs and then added three more in the sixth for a 7-1 lead.
Jaylon Deshazier snapped Martinez’s string of scoreless innings when he bounced a home run off the top of the fence in the right-center field gap to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to four at 7-3.
Some wild Arkansas State pitching in the seventh led to App State’s final run crossing the plate. Two Mountaineers were hit by a pitch and one walked to load the bases before Welch walked a run in for the final 8-3 tally.
Carter Holt took the loss for the Red Wolves (3-11, 0-2), allowing four runs in five innings without a strikeout.
App State reliever Eli Ellington sealed the win with a scoreless ninth, striking out two.