By David Rogers. March 21, 2017. BOONE, NC — In a game that had just a little bit of everything except shutdown pitching, an 8th inning inside-the-park home run by Appalachian State junior outfielder Tyler Stroup was icing on the cake, scoring the final two runs of a 13-9 slugfest in which the Mountaineers emerged victorious and snapping the Highlanders’ 5-game win streak. Stroup’s inside dinger gave him a rare “cycle” day: hitting an HR, triple, double, and single.
After going down 7-3 when the Highlanders erupted for 7 runs in the third (4) and fourth (3) innings, the Mountaineers batted around and then some in the bottom of the 5th, scoring 5 runs while sending 11 batters to the plate. The home half of the fifth featured run-scoring doubles by Chandler Seagle and Stroup, as well as an RBI single by Drake Zupcic and a wild pitch that sent Stroup across the plate.
Radford reclaimed the lead, 9-8, with two runs in the top of the 6th. In the bottom half of the inning, Appalachian State didn’t score any runs, but there nonetheless were plenty of fireworks. Radford pitcher Troy Alderman only lasted one-third of an inning after beaning two consecutive batters, including second baseman Matt Vernon and first baseman Conner Leonard. Vernon’s batting helmet proved a worthy protector, even though it was cracked when the senior infielder from Advance, NC was struck by the Alderman fastball. He later proved to have shaken off the beaning and was “A-OK” when he stole second base.
Right after Leonard was hit to put runners on first and second, Seagle perfectly executed a sacrifice to advance the runners and put them in scoring position at second and third. Highlander head coach Joe Raccuia had seen enough from Alderman, sending him to the showers and bringing on lefthander Colin Reid. The freshman from Round Hill, Virginia got the final two outs of the inning, striking out senior outfielder Brian Bauk and freshman catcher Brad Davis.
Vernon played a key role in the bottom of the 7th when he drilled a Reid pitch into the darkening skies beyond the left field fence, scoring freshman infielder Calev Grubbs, who had singled two batters earlier to also drive in a run. The 3-run outburst put the Mountaineers ahead to stay, 11-9, and was followed up by the Stroup heroics in the decisive 8th inning to cement the win.
Stroup and Zupcic led the way offensively for the Mountaineers, each going 4-5 in their evening’s work. Stroup had his “cycle”, 3 runs scored, and 4 RBIs, while Zupcic had four singles and two RBIs.
Vernon also finished with impressive offensive contributions, going 2-for-3, with a single, a home run and a walk.
Reid picked up the loss for Radford, while the scorebook keepers attributed the win to junior lefthander Tristan Helms for his 1.1 innings of work.
The Mountaineers look to build on their record over the weekend, opening a three-game home stand vs. Texas State beginning with Friday’s game with a scheduled start time of 5:00 pm. The two Sun Belt adversaries will return to Beaver Field and Smith Stadium on Saturday (2:00 pm) and Sunday (11:00 am).
App State is 10-11 overall, 1-2 in Sun Belt play.
SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
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