BOONE, N.C. — A comeback win and complete-game shutout gave Appalachian State Baseball a doubleheader sweep of first-place UTA on Saturday at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Kendall McGowan erased a seventh-inning deficit with a two-run homer to help lift App State to a 9-7 win in Game 1, which began with the Mavericks establishing a 6-1 lead, and left-handed freshman Tyler Tuthill posted a career-high eight strikeouts while allowing just four hits with no walks during a 6-0 victory in Game 2.
McGowan and Tyler Leek homered in that win as the Mountaineers (18-22 overall) improved to 10-9 in the Sun Belt and set a program record for Sun Belt victories with 10 conference games still remaining.
Appalachian moved above .500 in the Sun Belt for the first time since joining the highly regarded league and recorded its first complete-game shutout since Taylor Thurber, who was in attendance Saturday, threw a four-hitter against ULM in 2015 to give the Mountaineers their first-ever Sun Belt victory.
In all, App State allowed one run over the last 15 innings of the doubleheader against UTA (28-16, 14-6), as sophomore Jason Cornatzer gave up one run in 3.2 innings of relief in Game 1 to pick up his first career victory. Phillip Cole’s two-run homer in the fifth inning cut the Mountaineers’ deficit to 7-6, and Bailey Welch reached on a leadoff error in the bottom of the seventh before McGowan drilled a one-out pitch 421 feet to left with an exit velocity of 105 mph.
Andrew Papp replaced Cornatzer with one runner aboard in the eighth and got the third out to set up a bottom of the eighth in which Alex Leshock’s infield single brought home Robbie Young with an insurance run. Papp retired three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth to pick up his fourth save.
Tuthill followed that dramatic win with a dominant performance, as he faced only four batters above the minimum. The two hits he allowed in the first six innings occurred on a misplayed popup and a slow roller between the mound and first base.
Riley Smith’s fourth-inning sacrifice fly to bring home Cole, who had doubled with one out, accounted for the first run of Game 2. McGowan’s leadoff homer in the sixth and Leek’s two-run homer, which followed a groundout and Joel McDaniel’s infield single, pushed the lead to 4-0 going to the seventh inning.
McGowan added an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap a day in which he went 3-for-8 with five RBIs and two runs scored. Cole was 3-for-8 with four RBIs and two runs, and Welch went a combined 4-for-8 on the day. He scored three times in the Game 1 win.
The series concludes Sunday at noon with App State’s Brandon Boone (4-2, 3.29 ERA) and UTA’s David Moffat (4-2, 3.32 ERA) as the probable starters.
App State Baseball would like to thank AutoStar Nissan of Boone for serving as the presenting sponsor of the 2019 season.