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Golston Gillespie
Golston Gillespie hit his 11th home run of the season, a monster shot that sailed over the video board.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Baseball Wins Wild Contest After Being Down 8-0

With App State trailing by eight runs in the second inning, veteran Luke Drumheller marched up and down the home dugout telling his teammates that the Mountaineers were going to find a way to win.

They improbably won the game. And they won another Sun Belt Conference series.

Hayden Cross’ one-out, bases-loaded grounder under the glove of Georgia State’s first baseman with a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted App State to a 15-14 victory on Sunday afternoon at Smith Stadium. After taking two of three road games against Marshall to open league play, the Mountaineers (13-9, 4-2) also won two of three from the Panthers, who entered Boone with a 3-0 league record.

Georgia State led 8-0 going into the bottom of the second inning, but the bit-by-bit rally began on the first of two two-run homers in the game from Golston Gillespie, who finished 3-for-3 with six RBIs and four runs scored. The switch-hitter also homered from the left side in the fifth inning, and his two-run single from the right side in the sixth inning gave the Mountaineers a 12-11 edge.

Cross broke a 12-12 tie with a homer to left on the first pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Alex Aguila’s sac fly increased the lead, but Georgia State erased a 14-12 deficit on Max Ryerson’s one-out, two-run homer in the top of the ninth.

After winning pitcher Jackson Steensma induced an inning-ending groundout with runners at the corners, Andrew Terrell opened the bottom of the ninth with a single and moved to third on Xavier Moronta’s single. Georgia State (13-11, 4-2) employed five infielders before a groundout to a traditional left fielder manning third left two runners in scoring position, and the Panthers intentionally walked Drumheller to bring up Cross.

When his ground ball found its way into right field, the Mountaineers bolted out of the dugout on the third-base side and mobbed him near second base.

In addition to Gillespie increasing his season total to nine homers, including eighth in the last 11 games, the Mountaineers got multi-hit games from Terrell (who had a huge homer of his own while going 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs), Austin St. Laurent and Hunter Wilder as every starter posted at least one hit.

Grey LaSpaluto’s effort on the mound helped give App State an opportunity to rally, as he allowed one run over four innings of relief. He entered with two away in the third inning, with App State trailing 10-3, before pitching scoreless fourth and fifth innings. The Panthers hit a solo homer in the sixth for an 11-8 advantage, but Terrell started the go-ahead, four-run bottom half of that sixth with a solo homer.

Moronta (hit by pitch), St. Laurent (single) and Cross (hit by pitch with one away) reached ahead of CJ Boyd, who delivered an RBI groundout before Gillespie gave App State its first lead of the day.

LaSpaluto and Skyler Brooks combined for a scoreless seventh, and Georgia State tied the game with an RBI groundout in the eighth. A popout with two runners on prevented the Panthers from reclaiming the lead, setting up a dramatic finish in which Cross came through during each of App State’s last two at-bats.

The Mountaineers face Queens on Wednesday night at Truist Field in Charlotte, with a first pitch of 7 p.m. They return to conference play next weekend with a series at Louisiana.