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Troy with dramatic extra innings win over Mountaineers, 10-9, in Sun Belt tourney

By David Rogers. MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Sometimes, baseball seems like a chess match, with moves and counter moves. A 4-run explosion at the top of the 9th inning to take a 2-run was not quite enough for Appalachian State on May 24, in Game 3 of the Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament.

With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Troy’s Tremayne Cobb, Jr. slugged a 2-run home run to tie the game at 9-9 then, in the bottom of the 10th, outfielder Kole Myers ripped a double to the fence through the gap in left center for the Trojans, plating teammate Kyle Mock in the process.  That timely hitting gave the No. 3 seeded Alabamans a 10-9 win over the No. 6-seeded Mountaineers.

App State opened the slugfest scoring with a home run by Luke Drumheller in the first inning and a pair of dingers in the 5th inning, a solo shot by Alex Reed down the right field line, followed by a 2-run rocket launch by C J Boyd over the left field fence. For Boyd, it was his 15th home run of the 2023 season, tying him with Golston Gillespie for the team lead in that statistical category. Gillespie, usually the cleanup hitter in batting order has 50 RBIs for the season, Boyd 47 (and most often the leadoff hitter).

While the Mountaineers were ahead 5-0 after the top of the fifth inning, Troy rallied in the middle innings (5th, 6th and 7th) to take a 7-5 lead going into the 8th inning. Their offensive outburst included a 3-run HR by Brooks Bryan, an RBI single off the bat of catcher Caleb Bartolero, and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by William Sullivan in the bottom of the 5th inning.

The Trojans manufactured a couple of unearned runs on a pair of Mountaineer fielding errors in the 6th inning, before Bartolero showed off some power with a solo home run in the bottom half of the 7th inning.

Trailing 7-5 in what would be their last at-bat before extra innings, App State’s Drumheller lofted an RBI sacrifice fly to left to score Boyd in the top half of the 9th. Then, still trailing 7-6 down to their last out, the Mountaineers loaded the bases and forced in a run when Alex Reed was hit by a pitch from Troy’s all-Sun Belt reliever Noah Manning. Jonathan Xuereb followed with a bases loaded hopper through the right side, scoring Gillespie and Hayden Cross, giving the Mountaineers a 9-7 advantage going into the bottom half of the ninth inning.

App State freshman relief ace Jackson Steensma took the mound and promptly gave up a single to Bartolero, but then looked to get out of the inning with two consecutive outs, including a 3-pitch strikeout. Troy looked doomed until Cobb drove the first pitch over the left field wall, scoring Bartolero ahead of himself to tie the game and send the affair into extra innings.

In the top half of the 10, Drumheller scalded a 2-out single to right and made a gutsy steal of second to put a Mountaineer runner in scoring position, but Cross was unable to convert, grounding out to 2nd base.

It was a game of musical chairs and changing positions for both teams, especially the Mountaineers. Junior Grey LaSpaluto entered the game as a pinch runner in the 9th inning, went to left field to start the 10th, defensively, but then was called in to pitch for App State after Steensma hit a batter, Mock. LaSpaluto walked the next Troy batter, Clay Stearns, before Myers hit a 1-2 pitch through the gap in left center to score Mock with the winning run.

With the win, Troy will advance to play the winner of Game 4 between No. 7 seed James Madison and No. 2 Southern Miss. App State will play the loser of that game in the double elimination tournament.

Key Individual Performers

  • TROY – Caleb Bartolero 4-5, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs, HR
  • TROY – Tremayne Cobb, Jr. 1-3, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs, HR, 2 walks
  • TROY – Kole Myers 2-5, 1 run scored, 1 RBI, 2B, 3B
  • TROY – Bryan Brooks 1-3, 1 run scored, 3 RBIs, HR
  • APP – Luke Drumheller 3-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, HR, SacFly, SB
  • APP – Xavier Moronta 3-5, 2 runs scored
  • APP – CJ Boyd 1-6, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs, HR
  • APP – Alex Reed 2-3, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs, HR, Hit by Pitch
  • APP – Hayden Cross 2-6, 1 run scored, 1 RBI, SB
  • APP – Andrew Terrell 2-5, 1 run scored, SB

Winning Pitcher: Noah Manning (3-2); Losing Pitcher: Jackson Steensma (3-1)

 

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