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App State baseball goes extra innings to start the season 7-0

By David Rogers. GREENSBORO, N.C. — Relief pitcher Zach Lewis only faced five batters on Feb. 26, but picked up the win after Appalachian State’s 4-hit, 4-run scoring outburst in the top of the 10th inning at War Memorial Stadium against North Carolina A & T. The 11-7 victory moved the Mountaineers to 7-0, the team’s best start since a 10-0 start to the 2010 season.

In the top half of the 10th inning, with the scored tied 7-7, Alex Reed reached first base on a fielding error by the Aggies after Luke Drumheller had opened with a fly out to center field. With pinch runner Vasili Kaloudis drifting off first, Dylan Rogers chopped an infield single to the A & T second baseman, Kaloudis advancing to second.  When Hunter Wilder singled through the right side, Kaloudis and Rogers took third and second, respectively, to load the bases and set up the drama to come.

Jonathan Xuereb followed with what proved to be the winning RBIs, with a sharp single through the right side, scoring Kaloudis from third and Rogers from second, while Wilder was held at second base. Although Andrew Terrell popped to first base for the inning’s second out, Xavier Moronta smacked a 2-RBI double to centerfield, scoring both Xuereb and Wilder.

Although Austin St. Laurent struck out looking to end the inning, the damage had been done with the Mountaineers 4-run explosion.

Lewis had faced only one batter in the bottom of the 9th inning, entering the game as App State’s fifth pitcher of the day and gaining a full count strikeout. In the bottom of the 10th inning, the second batter he faced got on base when he was hit by a pitch, but Lewis and the Mountaineer defense dispatched the other three batters he faced with a ground out, a strike out, and a final pop up to shortstop for the last out.

The Aggies actually opened the game with a 2-run first inning 1-run third to take an early, 3-0 lead, but App State tied the game with three runs in the top of the 4th beginning with a one-out rally. A single by Laurent, a Hayden Cross triple, and a single by Luke Drumheller brought home the first two runs, before Rogers drilled a 2-out double to left centerfield, scoring Drumheller to even things up.

Any Mountaineer relief was short-lived as NC A&T scored two more runs in the bottom of the 4th inning and added another in the bottom of the 6th to give the Aggies a 6-3 lead. App State manufactured one run in the 7th inning to narrow the deficit, then jumped ahead with three runs in the top of the 8th inning on a 3-RBI home run by Rogers, giving the boys from Boone a slim, one-run lead, 7-6.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Aggies sent six batters to the plate to produce one run, tying the game, while the Mountaineers deployed three pitchers in the inning, the last being Lewis for the final out.

Both teams were held scoreless in the ninth inning, sending the game into extra innings tied at 7-7.

To earn the win, App State rapped out 14 hits to score those 11 runs, while defensively committing only one fielding error. Rogers was the leading producer on offense with a double, a home run and 4 RBIs. Jonathan Xuereb contributed with a double and two RBIs, going 2-5 on the day, while Drumheller also went 2-5 with a double and 1 RBI. Moronta only had one hit in five at-bats, but his offensive production still proved valuable with a double and three RBIs.

Ryan Sleeper started the game on the mound for the Mountaineers, lasting just 3.1 innings while giving up 5 runs on 6 hits, all earned runs, with four strikeouts. Collin Welch was the first pitcher in relief, going four innings while giving up 2 hits and 2 runs (only one earned), striking out three batters he faced.

The Mountaineers travel to Johnson City on Feb. 28 for a tilt against the host East Tennessee State Buccaneers. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.


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