BOONE, N.C. – The Appalachian State baseball team pounded out a season-high 13 hits in an 8-5 win over Marshall in Saturday’s 2018 home opener.
App State (4-4) used a balanced offensive attack and a couple of big innings to take down the Thundering Herd (4-3) of Conference USA. All nine Mountaineer starters recorded at least one hit, including two-hit efforts from catcher Riley Smith, first baseman Conner Leonard, left fielder Beau Myers and center fielder Alex Leshock.
Left-hander starter Andrew Vaccacio (1-2) earned his first career win with the Black and Gold, as the junior college transfer allowed just two runs with eight strikeouts in six innings of work. Kaleb Bowman struck out three over the next 2.1 innings, and Luke Watts entered with one out in the ninth and induced a double play ball to pick up his second save of the year.
“When you talk about a big offensive day, sometimes what’s hidden is a pretty good pitching day,” head coach Kermit Smith said. “I thought Andrew did a great job. He gave up the home run to the second batter of the game and only gives up one more run through six. That’s kind of been the theme of our season is we’ve had phenomenal starts all year. Kaleb’s first two innings were dominant, and Watts only had to throw four of five pitches before the double play ball.”
Trailing 2-0 in the third inning, App State plated four runs in the bottom half of the frame to surge to the lead. The Mountaineers used four hits and two Marshall errors for the big inning. Run-scoring doubles by Bailey Welch and Jason Avers highlighted the action.
App State maintained a 4-2 lead until the bottom of the seventh, when the Mountaineers tacked on three more runs, thanks in large part to a pair of triples by Riley Smith and CJ Brown.
Smith doubled in his next at-bat in the bottom of the eighth to score Joel McDaniel and give the Mountaineers a commanding 8-2 lead. Marshall made a late push with three runs in the ninth before Watts came in and shut down the comeback.
App State managed a season high in hits for the second straight game, after piling up 12 hits in Tuesday’s 13-3 win at Western Carolina.
“Offensively, I thought it was a complete game,” Kermit Smith said. “Nothing extraordinary, just some really quality balls that were put in play.”
Shane Hanon had a three-hit afternoon and Raul Cabrera drove in three to pace the Herd. Marshall starting pitcher Wade Martin (0-1) took the loss after allowing four runs (two earned) and striking out six hits in six innings.
The two squads return to Beaver Field at Smith Stadium for Sunday’s doubleheader. First pitch of game one is scheduled for noon.
“You sensed the whole day that the guys were so happy being back home,” Smith said. “The crowd did a good job supporting us, and it’s always good to get back in front of those guys. Looking forward to playing two tomorrow.”
Season tickets can be purchased by clicking HERE for the App State Ticket Central site, by calling the Appalachian State athletics ticket office at (828) 262-2079 or by going to the ticket office, located at the Holmes Center, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Tickets for Tuesday’s game in Charlotte can be purchased online HERE or by calling the Charlotte Knights’ ticket office at 704-274-8282.