JONESBORO, Ark. — Appalachian State left Boone on May 2 just a half-game out of first place in the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division. The Mountaineers are in the same spot following a 7-4 win at Arkansas State in the series’ final game May 5.
App State (21-24, 12-11) moved back above .500 in the league and is in a second-place tie with Coastal Carolina in the East, tied in the loss column with first-place Georgia Southern (13-11), thanks to its comeback victory against the Red Wolves (25-23, 11-13).
Tyler Leek’s two-out RBI single to score Joel McDaniel broke an eighth-inning tie, Kaleb Bowman (5-0) followed that run with two strikeouts in a perfect bottom of the eighth, the Mountaineers added two insurance runs on a misplay of a Riley Smith grounder in the top of the ninth and Andrew Papp secured his sixth save with a perfect bottom of the ninth.
Papp’s game-ending strikeout improved Bowman’s career record to 7-0, gave App State a 5-1 record in Game 3 conference starts this year by Brandon Boone and extended the Mountaineers’ leading-leading streak to 13 straight Sun Belt series with at least one victory.
Boone struck out a career-high nine batters and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits in 5.2 innings. App State trailed 2-0 before Kendall McGowan hit a game-tying homer in the sixth inning, and the Mountaineers bounced back from Arkansas State retaking the lead in the bottom of the sixth by getting two runs in the top of the seventh. Those runs scored on Luke Drumheller’s RBI groundout and Leek’s sprint home on a wild pitch.
The Red Wolves managed to tie the game at 4-all on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Bowman stranded runners at the corners with a huge strikeout.
McDaniel led off the eighth with a walk and moved to second on Smith’s sacrifice bunt before the second out occurred on a pop-up. Luke Allison’s walk on a 3-2 pitch triggered a pitching change, and Leek singled to right on a 2-2 offering to give App State the lead.
The ninth-inning insurance came with McGowan reaching on a one-out error and advancing to second on Alex Leshock’s single. McDaniel reached on a fielder’s choice that put runners at the corners, stole second and followed McGowan home on the two-out fielding error.