By David Rogers. MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Four Mountaineers enjoyed a multi-hit game on May 25, in an 8-7 App State win over No. 7 seeded James Madison in an elimination game of the Sun Belt Conference baseball tournament.
Sunny, 72-degree weather greeted the Dukes and Mountaineers at Riverwalk Stadium. App State was designated as the home team, with Dante Chirico taking the mound as the starting pitcher. The junior righthander blanked the Dukes in the first three innings before giving up three runs on three hits in the 4th inning, including a 2-run home run to the Dukes catcher, Jason Schiavone.
Chirico went a total of 5.1 innings in the start, throwing a total of 78 pitches, giving up the three runs on four hits, walking four and striking out three over that span.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineer offense got things going in the 3rd inning, capitalizing on doubles by C J Boyd and Luke Drumheller, followed by a run-scoring single off the bat of Hayden Cross to take an early, 2-0 lead. Although the Dukes countered with their three runs in the top of the 4th, App State came right back with another pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to jump back out in the lead. Austin St. Laurent rapped the Mountaineers’ third double of the day and Hunter Wilder rapped a single up the middle to bring him home, Wilder taking second on the late throw to the plate.
Andrew Terrell followed with a ground out to the shortstop, but Wilder advanced to third on the play. Then, in a daring move with two outs, Boyd showed off his versatility with a push bunt to the awkward gap between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Wilder raced home and the run counted when Boyd beat out the play at first base that otherwise would have been the inning’s final out. As it was, App State finished the inning with a tenuous, 4-3 lead.
The Mountaineers expanded their lead in the bottom of the 5th inning, manufacturing a run with a single by Drumheller and a walk to Cross before St. Laurent sliced a single through the left side, Drumheller scoring.
JMU knotted the score at 5-5 with a pair of runs in the top of the 7th inning, but the Mountaineers took command with three runs in the bottom of the 8th when Andrew Terrell opened the frame with a single and stole second, scoring on another Drumheller double. That nudged App State ahead, 6-5, but Cross launched a shot over the right field fence for some insurance runs, the Mountaineers leading 8-5 going into the ninth inning.
And those extra insurance runs proved valuable, because the Dukes were able to score two in the top half of the ninth but it was not enough when little used App State relief pitcher Jeriah Henry retired the side on two fly-outs to end JMU’s scoring threat.
With the win, App State advances to another elimination game, facing the loser of Thursday’s evening matchup between No. 3 Troy and No. 2 Southern Mississippi.
KEY INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS
- APP – C J Boyd: 3-5, 1 run scored, 1 RBI, 2b
- APP – Luke Drumheller: 4-5, 3 runs scored, 2 RBIs, 2B(2)
- APP – Hayden Cross: 2-3, 1 run scored, 3 RBIs, HR, 2 walks
- APP – Austin St. Laurent: 3-4, 1 run scored, 1 RBI, 2B
- JMU – Mason Dunaway: 2-4, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs, HR, 1 walk
- JMU – Mike Mancini: 2-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 stolen bases
- JMU – Jason Schiavone: 2-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, HR
WINNING PITCHER: Jeriah Henry (1-0)
LOSING PITCHER: Hunter Entsminger (0-3)
EXTRA GAME NOTES
- The relief appearance marked Jeriah Henry’s first career win on the mound.
- Dante Chirico made just his third start on the mound for the 2023 season.
- App State rapped out 15 hits for the second consecutive game.
- Xavier Moronta’s first inning single extended his hitting streak to 18 straight games.
- Luke Drumheller’s 4-hit day came in his 225th career game for the Mountaineers, tying Hector Crespo’s program record.