By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. —Before one of the 2023 season’s largest home crowds and a number of notable university officials on March 24, Appalachian State baseball scored early and often then outlasted visiting Georgia State, 10-7.
BONUS PHOTOS AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE
No fewer than seven Mountaineers crossed home plate with runs and five black-and-gold clad batters collected RBIs. Hitting eighth in the batting order, Alex Aguila arguably had the best day, going 2-for-3, scoring a run and recording 3 RBIs as well as being credited with a stolen base.
The Mountaineers’ third baseman, Golston Gillespie also went 2-for-3 on the day, scoring 3 runs and collecting one RBI. Both Aguila and Gillespie walked twice.
Second baseman Austin St. Laurent also had a creditable day at the plate, hitting 2-for-4, including one double, securing 2 RBIs.
Catcher Hayden Cross also was credited with 2 RBIs on the day, the first one in the first inning to get things started for Appalachian State. With the bases loaded in the bottom half of the first inning, Cross (batting cleanup) lofted a long fly ball to centerfield, scoring Xavier Moronta, who tagged up a third, giving Cross a sacrifice fly RBI for his stat line.
App State scored in every inning except the 7th, including a 3-run outburst in the second inning that saw a pair of walks and a batter hit by a pitch load the bases. St. Laurent capitalized with a single rapped up the middle, scoring Aguila and Andrew Terrell. Xavier Moronta came home for the inning’s third run inning on an error by Georgia State’s shortstop, Matt Ruiz.
The Mountaineers’ 2-run production in the bottom half of the 5th inning featured a little bit of “small ball.” Gillespie started things off with a single through the right side before Hunter Wilder singled to right, too, sending the redshirt senior from Ila, Ga. to third. With runners on first and third, Hunter, a junior outfielder from Port Charlotte, Fla., took advantage of Gillespie as a scoring threat and stole second, putting both App State runners in scoring position. Aguila worked the count to 3-1, then teed off on a pitch down the middle for yet another single through the right side, with both Gillespie and Wilder racing home.
While Georgia State started to get some offense going with two runs in the 8th inning and 3 more in the top half of the 9th to tighten the early deficit, App State countered with Gillespie seventh home run of the season for an insurance run in the bottom half of the 8th.
Starting pitcher Xander Hamilton (4-1) was credited with the win, allowing just two runs on five hits, walking three and striking out nine. He threw 112 total pitches, 72 of them strikes.
Joseph Brandon (2-1) picked up the loss on the mound for the visiting Panthers, as the starter. He pitched only the first two innings, giving up only two hits, but seeing four App State runners cross the plate, helped by Brandon walking four and three of the four runs rule “unearned” because of fielding errors.
The teams will return to action for Game 2 of the 3-day series on Saturday, March 25, at 3 p.m.
NOTABLE INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
- APP – Xander Hamilton (SP): WIN, 6.1 innings pitched, allowed 2 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
- APP – Golston Gillespie (1B): 2-3, 3 runs scored, 1 RBI, HR
- APP – Austin St. Laurent (RF): 2-4, 2 RBIs
- APP – Doubles by Hayden Cross and Luke Drumheller
- APP – Stolen bases by Xavier Moronta, Hunter Wilder, Alex Aguila
- GSU – Luke Boynton (1B): 2-3, 3 runs scored, 2 RBIs, HR, 2 walks
- GSU – Max Ryerson (DH): 2-5, 1 run scored, 1 RBI
- GSU – Will Mize (SS): 2-3, 1 RBI