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Mountaineers account for 6 HRs in doubleheader sweep, 3 (more) by Tolley

By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — Dominant pitching combined with explosive hitting is usually a good formula for winning baseball games at any level. Appalachian State doubled up on that concept vs. South Alabama on May 5 at Smith Stadium, cobbling together a doubleheader sweep. The winning effort included a 10-2, one-hitter in Game 1 and a run-rule shortened, 13-1 victory in Game 2.

It was the third straight Sun Belt Conference series win for the Mountaineers, improving their record to 28-16-1 overall and 13-10-1 in league play.


App State centerfielder Banks Tolley accounted for half of the team’s offensive production, clubbing two home runs and driving in five runs, including twice crossing the plate on his HRs. Austin St. Laurent used his “panda power” to drive in two more runs in the sixth inning with a ground ball single through the middle. Two batters later, Tolley tapped an RBI groundout to the shortstop to complete the 3-run inning.

Between the Mountaineers’ 3-run efforts in the first and sixth innings, they manufactured single runs in the third, fourth and fifth frames.

One of the most impressive storylines of Game 1, with first pitch at 9 a.m. because of Saturday’s rainout, was the pitching performance of Dante Chirico. He gave up a home run in the first inning to the first Jaguar batter he faced, centerfielder Will Turner, but shook it off to make that the only hit of his seven innings on the mound. The senior righthander got in a bit of a jam in the top half of the fifth when he hit pinch hitter Ethan Melton with a pitch and issued a walk to third baseman Tyler Borges before a ground ball throwing error gave Melton a pass to the plate. Chirico got out of the inning without further damage and pitched two more scoreless innings before giving way to reliever Cody Little the rest of the way.

Although South Alabama also scored the one unearned run, the pitching duo of Chirico and Little held the Jaguars to 1-for-29 hitting in Game 1.

Key Performers:

  • Banks Tolley: 3-4, 2 runs scored, 5 RBIs, 2 HRs, sacrifice fly
  • Dante Chirico: winning pitcher (4-1), 7 innings pitched, 1 hit, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, 103 total pitches
  • Austin St. Laurent: 2-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, walk
  • C J Boyd: 2-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, 2B, HR
  • Xavier Moronta: 1-5, 1 run scored, 2B
  • Joseph Zamora: 1-2, 2 runs scored, 1 RBI, hit by pitch


In the second game, which started with first pitch at approximately 12:30 p.m., the Mountaineers again combined good offensive production with strong pitching performances. Senior righthander Trey Tujetsch retired the first eight batters he faced, allowing just two hits in the three-plus innings he was on the mound. Fellow senior Grey LaSpaluto finished the run-rule shortened game, allowing just two more hits and one run in his three-plus innings of work in relief.

Meanwhile, App State’s offense started out hot with five runs in the first inning and stayed that way with three more in the second inning and two additional runs in the third frame. Power was a constant feature, with the Mountaineers seeing rocket HRs launched by Tolley, Xavier Moronta and Braxton Church, sprinkled around doubles, singles and sacrifice flies.

Key Performers:

  • Tyler Tujetsch: winning pitcher (3-2), 3.1 innings pitched, 2 hits, no runs, one strikeout
  • Grey LaSpaluto: 3.2 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run, 4 strikeouts
  • Banks Tolley: 4-4, 2 runs scored, 3 RBIs, HR, walk
  • Drew Holderbach: 4-5, 4 runs scored
  • C J Boyd: 1-4, 2 runs scored, 1 RBI, walk, stolen base
  • Braxton Church: 1-3, 1 run scored, 4 RBIs, HR, sacrifice fly
  • Xavier Moronta: 1-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, HR

App State has two more league series in the regular season, beginning with Old Dominion May 10-11-12 in Norfolk, Va., before closing regular season play with a 3-game series vs. Georgia Southern May 16-17-18 at Smith Stadium.

The postseason Sun Belt Conference tournament is slated for May 21-26, in Montgomery, Ala., hosted in Riverwalk Stadium.


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