Boone, NC (A-State) – The Arkansas State baseball team took a 4-3 edge into the bottom of the ninth inning, but three straight hits with one out, including a three-run, walk-off home run by Grayson Atwood, gave Appalachian State a 6-4 victory in the series finale Saturday afternoon at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium in Boone, N.C.
The Red Wolves (20-23, 9-15 SBC) entered the bottom of the ninth with a 4-3 lead after Coulton Lee had tossed 4.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Lee got the first out of the inning on a fly ball, but a double by Matt Vernon and perfectly-placed drag bunt by Brian Bauk put runners on the corners with one out. A-State turned to Tanner Ring and the Appalachian State (13-31, 8-16 SBC) cleanup hitter Atwood knocked a 2-1 pitch over the left-field fence for a 6-4 App State win.
The series win for Appalachian State was its third straight home SBC series win, while Arkansas State failed to win back-to-back conference series for the first time this season.
Lee took the loss after throwing 4.2 innings and allowing just two runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Adam Grantham started for A-State and went 3.2 innings with three runs allowed (all earned) on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Reed Howell earned the win for the Apps with 4.1 innings out of the bullpen in relief of starter Colin Schmid. Howell allowed one run (earned) on three hits with one walk and two punch outs.
A-State got two hits apiece from Ring, Garrett Rucker, Austin Baker, and Jake Bakamus with RBIs from Joe Schrimpf, Baker, and Jeremy Brown. The Mountaineers got four hits from Bauk and two RBIs, while Atwood’s three RBIs on the home run proved to be the difference in the game.
Baker put the Red Wolves on the board first with the last of three consecutive two-out singles to plate Rucker for a 1-0 advantage. However, Appalachian State responded with a two-run homer by Bauk in the bottom of the third and added a single run in the fourth inning on a bases-loaded walk for a 3-1 edge.
A-State received infield hits from Rucker and Ring to begin the top of the fifth inning and both runners were sacrifice-bunted up a base by Baker. Rucker scored during the next at-bat on a wild pitch and Ring came home to tie the game 3-3 on a fielder’s choice. Brown hit a chopper to third base and App State’s Atwood opted to throw home to try to prevent Ring from scoring, but the tag was late.
Bakamus began the top of the sixth inning with a double off of the Mountaineers’ Reed Howell and was bunted to third by Ty White. Schrimpf hit a fly ball deep enough to center field to allow Bakamus to score and give visitors a 4-3 edge in the game.
Arkansas State’s next game is scheduled for Friday, May 6 at 6 p.m. in the first contest of a three-game nonconference set against Northwestern State in Jonesboro at Tomlinson Stadium/Kell Field.