A sharp outing from Will Sprinkle, coupled with a middle-inning rally by Appalachian State’s offense, gave the Mountaineers a 3-2 win in their series-opening home game against ULM on Friday.
Based on weather forecasts for the weekend, a Saturday doubleheader has been scheduled with a start time of 10 a.m.
The Sun Belt Conference foes had four hits apiece Friday in an afternoon game that lasted 2 hours, 11 minutes.
Sprinkle tied his career high of seven innings pitched, struck out five batters and allowed just four hits: a bunt single that preceded a second-inning home run that snuck inside the foul pole in right, a check-swing bloop single over an infielder’s head and an infield single between the mound and first base.
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, App State (14-18, 6-7) cut into its deficit against the Warhawks (15-19, 5-8) when Joel McDaniel hit his fourth home run of the season.
An inning later, an error on Alex Leshock’s two-hopper to third and Tyler Leek’s double down the left-field line off left-handed starter Trey Jeans put two runners in scoring position with one out. Luke Drumheller tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right, as Leek also advanced on the play, and Kendall McGowan drilled a go-ahead double into the left-center gap.
Sprinkle pitched around the leadoff infield single in the seventh inning by following a sacrifice bunt with a foulout to Luke Allison at third and a groundout to Drumheller at second. Kaleb Bowman relieved Sprinkle to close out a second straight strong start from the sophomore and pitched two scoreless innings to record his third save of the season.
In retiring six of the seven batters he faced, Bowman lowered his ERA to 1.50 — the second-best mark in the country for a pitcher with at least 16 appearances.
Offensively, Drumheller hit safely for the 24th time in the last 26 games as he, Leek, McDaniel and McGowan accounted for App State’s four hits.
Sprinkle faced only three batters in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings. After a one-out walk in the third inning, Allison snagged a line drive and threw to Robbie Young at first to double-up the baserunner. In all, six of the 32 batters from ULM reached base against Sprinkle and Bowman.
App State’s Tyler Tuthill (5-3) and ULM’s Ty Barnes (3-1) are the probable starting pitchers Saturday morning.