skip to Main Content

Five Appalachian State Baseball Players Announce Return for Fifth Year

Five App State Baseball student-athletes have announced their plans to return to Boone for the 2023 season, exercising their additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catcher Hayden Cross, infielder Luke Drumheller, left-handed pitcher Eli Ellington, infielder Andrew Terrell and left-handed pitcher Tyler Tuthill will all return to App State next season.

“When you go through the end-of-year meetings with guys, and you’re talking with individual guys about what they want to accomplish and what they have accomplished, a lot of things really resonated in [them saying], ‘Coach, I’m coming back here to win a championship,’ ” App State head coach Kermit Smith said. “They’re not just coming back to come back. They’re coming back here to win a championship and to leave this place better than they found it.”

Cross was named an All-Sun Belt second-team selection at catcher in 2022, following a year in which he led Mountaineer hitters in on-base percentage (.399) and batting average (.305) while tying for the team lead in RBIs (33) and ranking ninth in the Sun Belt with his team-high 16 doubles. He ranked second on the team in slugging (.429), hits (54) and total bases (76). The Sanford, N.C., native finished the season with 15 multi-hit games, compared to just 14 games without a hit, in addition to throwing out 15 runners from behind the plate.

In four seasons with the Black and Gold, Drumheller has played in 172 games and tallied 200 hits, including 54 for extra bases. In 2021, Drumheller was named an All-Sun Belt first-team selection at second base, capping a season in which he led Sun Belt second basemen with 36 RBIs while also ranking in the top two at the position in batting average (.285) and slugging (.425) during the regular season. His five homers led full-time second basemen.

Ellington joined the Mountaineers in 2021 and quickly assumed the closer’s role, finishing the season with five saves, tied for seventh most in the Sun Belt. In the Sun Belt Tournament against Texas State that year, he fired three scoreless innings and struck out four batters to help the Mountaineers secure a 1-0 win — the program’s first victory in the Sun Belt Tournament. Ellington was used as both a starter and reliever in 2022, going at least two innings in nine of his 19 appearances. His season was highlighted when he combined with Caleb Cross to one-hit UT Arlington on May 14.

The ultimate utility player in 2021, Terrell filled seven different positions for App State, all without committing an error, and was one of 17 players nationally to earn his way onto the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year watch list. In 2022, Terrell led the Mountaineers in walks (35) and runs scored (44) while settling in as the primary third baseman. He played and started in 51 of the team’s 53 games.

The team’s Friday night starter since late in the 2019 season, Tuthill returns to the Mountaineer rotation with 44 starts under his belt. He was named a first-team All-Sun Belt selection in 2021, finishing the season with a 3.32 ERA, including a 1.59 mark against league opponents during the regular season. He also led the Sun Belt and ranked 10th nationally in fewest hits allowed per nine innings and held opposing batters to a .160 average in league play.

Referencing the determination of this group to win a Sun Belt title, Smith added, “When you hear that start resonating from guy to guy to guy to guy, usually that kind of filters out to even some guys who haven’t been here yet. I love what we have coming in, in terms of our recruiting class, but the blend of what they’re walking into and why they are walking into that, that’s probably the thing I’m most excited about.”