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App State leaps past Troy, 10-6, capitalizing on Trojan miscues to advance in SBC tourney

By Matt Present. MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A seven-run seventh inning, coupled with a gutsy effort from the Mountaineers’ bullpen helped No. 6-seeded App State push past No. 3-seeded Troy in an elimination game on May 24, to advance to the Sun Belt semifinal round for the second consecutive year.

The script was eerily similar to a season ago when the Mountaineers scored 10 runs with two outs in the sixth inning to knock the Trojans out of the tournament.

 

Xavier Moronta clubbed a ‘monster’ HR on May 24 vs. Troy in the Sun Belt Tournament. Photo courtesy of App State Athletics

 

 

App State (33-20-1) will face No. 2-seeded Southern Miss at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, needing to beat the Golden Eagles twice to advance to a winner-take-all championship on Sunday.

Despite falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Mountaineers showed tremendous resolve throughout the ballgame. Max Tramontana came out of the bullpen to limit the first-inning damage, tossing 2.1 innings in relief and striking out three to allow the offense to get back into the game.

After manufacturing a run in the third to slice the deficit in half, App State grabbed the lead for the first time in the fourth inning. Braxton Church was hit by a pitch with two outs, and Xavier Moronta followed with a mammoth, two-run home run over the right field fence to give the Mountaineers a 3-2 lead.

After throwing two innings in relief a day earlier, Grey LaSpaluto worked a valiant 2.2 innings against Troy, striking out four, helping the Mountaineers get through the middle innings. While LaSpaluto allowed Troy to score the tying run in the sixth, Ryan Sleeper came out of the Mountaineer bullpen to minimize the damage and keep the game tied at 3-3.

App State then exploded at the plate in the seventh while capitalizing on Trojan miscues and mental errors. Church led off the inning with a single and after Moronta walked, Adam Quintero sacrificed the pair into scoring position. Hunter Wilder then came through with a go-ahead single to right to give the Mountaineers a 4-3 lead.

Austin St. Laurent (7) applies the tag out of a Troy runner on May 24. Photo courtesy of App State Athletics

After Troy walked Joseph Zamora intentionally to load the bases, Austin St. Laurent rapped an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-3. Then with Drew Holderbach batting, Troy’s pitcher, Noah Manning, uncorked a wild pitch and the Trojans threw the ball away trying for an out at the plate, allowing both Wilder and Zamora to score.

Banks Tolley then reached on a throwing error allowing St. Laurent to come across to score, and CJ Boyd and Church continued the rally with back-to-back RBI singles to push the lead to 10-3. App State tallied six hits in the inning and also took advantage of four Trojan errors in the frame.

Sleeper retired the first seven men he faced in relief, and tossed 3.2 scoreless innings, before a two-out rally in the ninth allowed Troy to bring the game to a 10-6 final.

App State pitching combined to hold the Trojans to just two hits prior to the ninth inning, and finished the game with 10 strikeouts. The Mountaineers stranded 11 Troy runners on base and held the Trojans to just 2-for-22 hitting with runners on base for the game.

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