BOONE, N.C. – App State’s baseball team begins its 2020 season on Friday, opening with a three-game series at Gardner-Webb. First pitch for App State’s first game of the season is set for 4 p.m. and will stream live on ESPN+.
In 2019, the Mountaineers recorded a program-best 13 victories in Sun Belt Conference play, earning their first appearance in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Mountaineers finished the season with seven victories over Top 100 RPI teams, including victories over Florida Atlantic (No. 37), Texas State (No. 52) and Coastal Carolina (No. 57).
On the mound, the Mountaineers return key pieces from their pitching staff from this past season, including sophomore starting pitcher Tyler Tuthill.
Tuthill, a left-hander who finished 2019 as App State’s Game 1 weekend starter, registered 60 strikeouts and finished with a 4.36 ERA as a freshman. The Clayton, North Carolina native earned his first Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week award in April after a complete-game shutout of first-place UTA. The left-hander allowed four hits and struck out a career-high eight batters on just 94 pitches.
After sitting out 2019 as a transfer, sophomore Cole Hooper will factor into App State’s starting rotation for midweek contests this season. The right-hander pitched in two games at NC State in 2018 before joining the Mountaineers. In high school, Hooper was named the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year as a junior after going 10-2 with a 1.70 ERA and 110 strikeouts.
In the bullpen, App State will look to replace crucial innings from Kaleb Bowman, who finished as the Sun Belt’s ERA champion with a 3.05 ERA in 62.0 innings pitched. A pair of seniors, Andrew Papp and Jack Hartman, will reinforce the back end of App State’s bullpen.
Papp, a 2020 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team honoree, led the Mountaineers with six saves and finished second on the team with a 3.38 ERA as a junior. The reliever has posted an ERA under 3.40 in both of his seasons at App State, striking out 45 batters and allowing just 14 walks in 42.2 innings pitched in 2019. Opposing batters hit just .226 against the right-hander, which also ranked second among App State pitchers in 2019.
Hartman finished the 2019 season with a 4.98 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 21.2 innings pitched. The Peachtree City, Georgia native posted four strikeouts in a pair of two-inning outings in conference play against Georgia State and Troy this past season. The right-hander’s 20 appearances ranked third on the team in 2019.
App State will also bring back relievers Cam Roberts, Austin Primm, Will Herman and Evan Mauldin. Roberts, a redshirt sophomore from Waxhaw, North Carolina, could also factor into App State’s starting rotation for midweek games or serve as a long reliever along with Hooper and freshman Noah Hall.
Primm, a sophomore from Dallas, North Carolina, appeared in 13 games and made two midweek starts in 2019. The sophomore recorded 22 strikeouts and allowed opposing hitters to bat only .244 against him. Roberts matched Primm with 21.1 innings pitched in 2019, recording 17 strikeouts in 14 relief appearances.
“As for the returners, Cam Roberts has really improved,” head coach Kermit Smith said. “Tyler Tuthill, obviously you got to know his name a lot last year in the Saturday role, and he’ll move up to Fridays. He’s been looking really, really good. Andrew Papp, preseason All-Sun Belt, will continue to do a good job in the bullpen. Maybe our most improved player on the team is Jack Hartman out of the bullpen. He’s really come onto the scene and done a fantastic job. We’re hopeful to see that Noah Hall, Jack Hartman and Andrew Papp combination as that three-headed monster coming in out of the bullpen. We’re really excited about our starting point.”
App State welcomes 10 newcomers this season, including four pitchers. Two transfers, Quinton Martinez and Shane Roberts, will factor into App State’s weekend starting rotation this season.
Martinez, a junior from Orlando, Florida, made 18 appearances and four starts this past season at St. Petersburg College. The left-hander posted a 3-1 record with a 4.20 ERA, registering 34 strikeouts in 40.2 innings pitched. The lefty excelled against conference foes, notching two wins, 18 strikeouts and a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings on the mound. Martinez also made the All-Star Game for the Florida Collegiate Summer League in 2019 after recording a 2.90 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Roberts, a sophomore from Jupiter, Florida, pitched this past season at Palm Beach State College, starting all 12 of his 2019 appearances. The right-hander struck out 40 batters in 59.1 innings pitched and allowed two earned runs or less in seven appearances.
The Mountaineers also add freshmen right-handers Hall and Cy Smith. Hall, a right-handed pitcher from Charlotte, North Carolina, finished his senior campaign at Providence High School with a 9-1 record, 103 strikeouts and a 1.66 ERA. Hall’s standout senior season helped him be named the Sun Belt’s No. 4 impact freshman, according to D1Baseball.
Smith, a right-hander who played at West Caldwell High School, finished with a 1.46 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched as a senior.
“Shane Roberts and Quinton Martinez, those are the two that really jump off the page,” Smith said. “Cole Hooper has been here for a year, so he redshirted after he transferred in last year, but those three guys will be three new names to App Nation. We’ve got a freshman in Noah Hall that’s doing a tremendous job and is really doing a lot of different things. You could potentially see him start a game, you could see him relieve a game or you could see him close a game this year. He’s very versatile in what he can do.”
App State Baseball would like to thank AutoStar Nissan of Boone for serving as the presenting sponsor of the 2020 season. 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.