Sports (517)

The San Francisco 49ers selected Appalachian State University defensive lineman Ronald Blair (Greensboro, Ga./Greene County) with the third pick of the fifth round (142nd overall) in the 2016 National Football League Draft on Saturday.

Blair is 26th NFL Draft pick in Appalachian State history and the first since Demetrius McCray was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blair is the Mountaineers’ highest draft pick since Brian Quick was chosen with the first pick of the second round by the St. Louis Rams in 2012. The 6-2, 284-pounder was also the first Sun Belt Conference player to come off the board in this year’s draft.

The 2015 Sun Belt Defensive Student-Athlete of the Year, Blair led the conference with 19 tackles for loss (tied for 12th nationally) and ranked second in the league with 7.5 sacks as a senior in 2015. He also tallied 71 total tackles (third on team, t-26th in Sun Belt), two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown in a 44-41 triple-overtime win over Troy on Oct. 31.

Blair started all 51 games that he suited up for during his Appalachian State career and finished with 53.5 tackles for loss (fifth in school history) and 20.5 sacks (10th in school history). In addition to being named the Sun Belt’s top defensive performer in 2015, he was also a three-time all-conference honoree (Sun Belt - 2014 and 2015, Southern Conference - 2012) and an NCAA Division I FCS freshman all-American in 2011.

Blair becomes the eighth former Mountaineer currently in the NFL ranks and joins fellow Appalachian State alum Daniel Kilgore with the 49ers. The number of App State representatives in the NFL will soon grow even larger as several former Mountaineers are expected to sign as undrafted free agents throughout the weekend.

After a nearly four-hour weather delay, the No. 15 Queens Women’s Lacrosse Team (17-2) finally prevailed over Lenoir-Rhyne (11-7), 16-8, to capture the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Championship Saturday night at the Royals Athletic Complex.

The Royals, winners of 12 straight games, defeated the Bears in the league championship for the third consecutive year.

Queens’ Abigail Paulus (Pickerington, Ohio) led all scorers with five goals and four assists while Brittany Larranaga (Orlando, Fla.) scored three times as the Royals held a clear advantage in shots taken (36-15) and ground balls (27-12) in the win.

Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore midfielder Aubriana Benedetto (Rochester, N.Y.) and freshman attacker Gabby Sousa (Delran, N.J.) both scored two goals while Benedetto dished out a pair of assists in the losing effort.

A goal by Sousa at the 23:13 mark of the second half cut the Royals’ lead to 7-5 but Queens then took control by scoring eight of the next nine goals.

Queens’ goalkeeper, Christine Wiese (Chesapeake Beach, Md.), earned the win after stopping five shots while Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore goalkeeper Ines Flueck (Coppell, Texas) suffered the loss despite totaling 14 saves on the night.

2016 South Atlantic Conference Women’s Lacrosse
Championship All-Tournament Team

Madi Malone - Tusculum
Bethany Davis - Catawba
Claire Wach – Lenoir-Rhyne
Ines Flueck – Lenoir-Rhyne
Aubriana Benedetto – Lenoir-Rhyne
Gabby Sousa – Lenoir-Rhyne
Brittany Larranaga - Queens
Hannah Scott - Queens
Gabby Farina - Queens
Bridgette Larranaga - Queens
Kelly Dowd - Queens
Abigail Paulus – Queens (Tournament MVP)

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Teams put on a strong performance at the Mountaineer Open Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium on the campus of Appalachian State University.

Lenoir-Rhyne had three second-place finishes in the meet: sophomore All-American Haylea Salamon (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA) in the women’s discus throw (146’1”), senior Victor Brannan in the men’s long jump (23’1”) and the men’s 400-meter relay team (42.48).

The relay squad consisted of freshmen Emanuel Jackson (Greenville, S.C.) and C.J. Williams (Oakland, Tenn.), junior Evin Sims (Greenwood, S.C.) and sophomore Calvin Edwards (Salisbury, N.C.) for the Bears.

In addition, freshman Paiton Fair (Newton, N.C.) was third in the women’s 400-meter dash (56.97 seconds) while Williams placed fourth in the men’s 200-meter dash with a time of 21.69 seconds for Lenoir-Rhyne.

Lenoir-Rhyne senior All-American Kevin Baxter (Columbia, S.C.) finished the preliminaries of the men’s 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.20 seconds, tying for a season-best. Baxter, who has provisionally qualified for the national championships for the fourth straight year in the event, was competing at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. Baxter missed the finals by just 0.01 seconds.

The Bears next compete in the Aggie Last Chance in Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday, May 15, on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University.

Appalachian State University softball dropped games two and three of the series with Texas State on Saturday afternoon by scores of 5-2 and 14-5 in five innings.

The Mountaineers fell to 9-43 overall and ended their 2016 Sun Belt slate with a record of 2-22. The Bobcats have won six of their last seven to improve to 33-18 including 12-9 in conference action. Their final league series of the regular season will be on May 6-7 when they host UT Arlington.

On the day, Cara Parker led the offense with three hits in six at-bats, two runs scored and an RBI. Jenny Dodd and Megan Walker had two hits apiece while one of Dodd's went for a home run, her 10th of the season. Walker snapped an 0-for-24 skid dating back to March 22 (17 games) with a hit in each game.

That game-one blast for the Black and Gold catcher tied her with Parker's 2014 mark for the most by a freshman in program history and pulled the team within two of the single-season record of 45 set last season.

With Parker's 10 home runs on the year, her and Dodd became the first App State duo with 10-plus home runs each in program history. Those two also represent the first time two Mountaineers have had at least 40 RBI apiece in the same season since Allie Cashion (46) and Meghan Smith (41) in 2011.

Game One: Texas State 5, App State 2

Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, App State trailed Texas State 4-0. In that half inning, though, Dodd hit her solo shot to cut the deficit to three. After the Bobcats added a fifth run in the sixth, the Mountaineers continued to battle.

In the bottom of the seventh, Parker singled in Walker before a passed ball that moved both her and Tiffany Taynor into scoring position. Pepper Butler then represented the tying run, but she grounded out to second to end the game.

Vanessa Ciocatto (7-19) went seven innings and gave up five earned runs on eight hits with four walks and two strikeouts.

Game Two: Texas State 14, App State 5 (5 Inn.)

In the nightcap, Texas State scored in each of the five innings with four runs in the first, one in the second, three in the third, four in the fourth, and two in the fifth. The Black and Gold countered with one in the fourth and a five spot in the fifth.

That run in the fourth scored when Natalie Orcutt singled in Parker. In the fifth, two runs scored when Dodd reached on an error by the third baseman and Butler brought in a pair with a single to right field.

In the circle, Ciocatto (7-20) threw a third of an inning, Claire Eosso was responsible for two-thirds and Annaleise Kennedy the final four frames.

Next up, Appalachian State will host North Carolina A&T on Thursday for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. inside Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium.

The Hickory Crawdads lost an early lead and never had a chance to respond Saturday night, as the Lexington Legends rallied for 4 runs in the top of the 5th shortly before the rain began to fall resulting in a 4-3 Hickory loss after 5 innings at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads looked well on their way to extending their winning streak to five games when they plated two runs in the 2nd and one more tally in the 3rd for a 3-0 lead. The game turned on its head in the 5th however, when the Legends got to 'Dads starting pitcher Wes Benjamin for 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk to make the score 4-3.

The game continued through the top of the 6th when the rain began to fall and the contest was suspended. Following a 49-minute delay, the contest was officially called giving the Crawdads a 4-3 defeat in 5 innings.

Hickory jumped out to their early advantage in the 2nd, when the club scored 2 unearned runs on two hits, three stolen bases, and an error. Yeyson Yrizarri got things started when he reached on a fielding miscue by Lexington third baseman Michael Hill. The 19-year-old Crawdad then proceeded to steal both second and third base and come home to score two outs later on an infield, RBI single from LeDarious Clark. Clark then took off running as well, as he stole second base before being driven in on an RBI single to center by Chris Garia for a 2-0 'Dads lead.

The score grew to 3-0 then next inning as Andy Ibanez reached on an infield base knock, moved to second base on a throwing error by Legends pitcher Corey Ray, took third base on an infield single from Dylan Moore, and ultimately scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Tyler Sanchez.

The Crawdads seemed to be in control from there as Benjamin shutout Lexington over the first four frames on just two singles and a walk. The Legends got to the right-hander in the 5th however, with back-to-back singles by Josh Banuelos and Michael Hill along with a walk to ninth place hitter Tanner Stanley combining to load the bases with one out. Leadoff batter D.J. Burt brought in the first run with an RBI single to left, before Martin Gasparini plated two with a ground ball base knock to left. Samir Duenez finished off the surge with an RBI groundout to put Lexington ahead 4-3.

The 'Dads went down in order in the bottom of the 5th while the Legends did the same in the top of the 6th before the rain fell and the game was called with the 4-3 Crawdads defeat.

Ray (1-1) earned the win for Lexington with 3 runs allowed, 0 earned, on six hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over 5 innings pitched. Benjamin (1-1) took the loss for the Crawdads after giving up 4 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks, and 6 Ks over his 5 IP.

Ibanez finished the game 2-3 with a double and a run scored to lead the 'Dads bats, while Ti'Quan Forbes went 1-2 with a double.

The Crawdads (15-8) and Legends (10-13) will play again Sunday afternoon, with first pitch from L.P. Frans Stadium scheduled for 3:00 pm.

Grayson Atwood (Mt. Pleasant, N.C./Mt. Pleasant) hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Appalachian State University baseball to a 6-4 walkoff win over Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.

With the victory, Appalachian State (13-31, 8-16 Sun Belt) won this weekend’s pivotal Sun Belt Conference series over Arkansas State (20-23, 9-15 Sun Belt), two games to one. The Mountaineers have won three-straight conference home series and matched last year’s Sun Belt win total with six league games left to play.

Facing a 4-3 deficit with runners on first and third base and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Atwood annihilated a 2-1 pitch from Arkansas State reliever Tanner Ring for the game-winner. The senior’s fourth home run of the season was a no-doubter right off the bat and sailed into the trees beyond Smith Stadium’s left-field wall, sparking the Mountaineers’ fourth walkoff celebration in their last eight conference home games.

Matt Vernon (Advance, N.C./Davie County) kickstarted the ninth-inning rally with a one-out double into the left-center field gap. One pitch later, Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) reached on a perfectly placed bunt single up the first-base line to chase A-State reliever Coulton Lee (5-4) from the game and set the stage for Atwood’s heroics.

Bauk’s ninth-inning bunt single capped a big day for the junior, who finished a career-best 4-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored, including what proved to be the game-winner. His two-run homer in the third inning gave App State its first lead at 2-1.

In addition to hitting the game-ending home run, Atwood doubled in the first inning and went 2-for-5 with three RBI. Chandler Seagle (New Bern, N.C./New Bern) singled twice to round out three Mountaineers with multiple hits.

The unsung hero of the day was Appalachian State relief pitcher Reed Howell (Goldsboro, N.C./Roswell). Less than 24 hours after pitching 3.2 innings of relief in Friday’s series opener, Howell worked the final 4.1 innings out of the bullpen on Saturday. The right-handed sophomore limited Arkansas State to one run on three hits and earned the hard-fought victory to move to 5-1 on the season.

App State banged out 11 hits on Saturday and 38 over the course of the three-game series. The Mountaineers have recorded double-digit hits in a season-high five-straight games.

Ring, Garrett Rucker, Austin Baker and Jake Bakamus had two hits apiece for A-State, which has lost two games in a row after having its six-game winning streak snapped in the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader.

Appalachian State caps a four-game homestand on Tuesday night versus North Carolina A&T. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Smith Stadium.

The No. 16 Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Lacrosse Team (12-4) held off Queens (11-7), 10-9, to win the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship Saturday afternoon at the Royals Athletic Complex.

The top-seeded Bears, the league regular season champions and winners of 11 straight games, won their first-ever conference tournament championship. The Royals were seeded third in this year’s league tournament.

Three Lenoir-Rhyne players – senior midfielder Carson Sterling (Durham, N.C.), junior attacker Will Remsen (Baldwin, N.Y.) and senior attacker Taylor Thilo (Greensboro, N.C.) – all scored three times while Sterling was named tournament most valuable player in the win.

Queens, ranked No. 20 in NCAA Division II, was led by Nick Carlson (Lusby, Md.) with three goals but the Royals couldn’t overcome an 8-3 deficit midway through the third period.

Lenoir-Rhyne junior attacker Mike Hanlon (Haymarket, Va.), the Bears’ leading scorer with 62 points, dished out four assists as the Bears were able to hold on after Queens scored twice in the final 90 seconds of the game. Lenoir-Rhyne never trailed in the contest in beating Queens by one goal for the second time on the road this year.

The Bears held the edge in shots taken (43-42) while both goalkeepers – Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Crompton (Frederick, Md.) and Queens’ Eric Dolan (Hopkinton, Mass.) – had 11 saves on the day.

2016 South Atlantic Conference Men’s Lacrosse
Championship All-Tournament Team

Nate Wade - Tusculum
Robert Godwin - Wingate
Eric Dolan - Queens
Garrett Sadler - Queens
Jonathan Paige - Queens
Taylor Thilo - Lenoir-Rhyne
Ryan Crompton - Lenoir-Rhyne
Matt Harrison - Lenoir-Rhyne
Mike Hanlon - Lenoir-Rhyne
Carson Sterling - Lenoir-Rhyne (Tournament MVP)

Catawba Valley Community College baseball continues their winning way winning their 8th game in a row in a doubleheader sweep of Southeastern Community College, 12-7 and 7-0. The combination of offensive firepower and dominant pitching is proving potent for the Red Hawks.

In game one, Brandon Ford went 4 for 6, 1 RBI, 1 R. Austin Locklear went 3 for 6, 1 2B, 1 HR (4), 2 RBI, 2 R. Seth Hubbard went 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB. Aaron Mauldin went 2 for 3, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Randal Ortiz went 1 for 4, 1 HR (10), 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.

In gmae two, Aaron Biggerstaff flirted with a no-hitter as he threw a complete game, two hit, shutout in game two. Offensively, Ty Andrus went 4 for 4, 1 2B, 1 R. Aaron Mauldin went 2 for 4, 1 RBI. Chris Wright went 1 for 3, 1 HR (1), 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB

The Red Hawks will look for the series sweep and their 9th win in a row Sunday at 12:00 in Whiteville, NC. The Red Hawks move to 26-22 (12-5) on the season.

Appalachian State University baseball scored 16 runs and banged out 27 hits in a doubleheader split with Arkansas State on Friday at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium. Arkansas State won the opener, 9-7, but Appalachian State rebounded for a decisive 9-2 victory in the nightcap.

Appalachian State (12-31, 7-16 Sun Belt) slugged its way to 14 hits in Game 1 and 13 hits in Game 2. Eleven of the Mountaineers’ 27 hits went for extra bases (six doubles, a triple and four home runs). Freshman Tanner Mann-Fix (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) and junior Matt Vernon (Advance, N.C./Davie County) led the offensive outburst with the duo combining to go 11-for-18 with two doubles, a triple, four home runs, 10 RBI and six runs scored over the course of the doubleheader.

App State also received solid starting pitching in both contests. Freshman Bobby Hampton (Pikeville, N.C./C.B. Aycock) allowed three earned runs on four hits over five innings in the opener while fellow freshman Breydan Gorham (Burlington, N.C./Western Alamance) limited A-State to one run on three hits over seven innings in the nightcap.

Relief pitching in Game 1 proved to be the difference between a split and an Appalachian State sweep.

After the Mountaineers took a 6-4 lead in the second inning of the opener, Arkansas State reliever Tyler Zuber (4-3) came on and limited App State to one run over the final 7.1 innings of the game. Meanwhile, after Hampton departed the game in the sixth with the 6-4 advantage still intact, Appalachian’s bullpen surrendered five runs in four innings, which allowed the Red Wolves to rally for the victory.

In the nightcap, Appalachian State battered A-State’s pitching throughout the ballgame. The Mountaineers scored one run in the second inning, four in the fourth, one in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the eighth to match their largest winning margin ever in a Sun Belt Conference game (App State beat UL Monroe, 7-0, on March 20 of last season).

Gorham (2-4) struck out four in Game 2 and needed only 101 pitches to cruise through a career-high-tying seven innings. Luke Watts (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central) closed it out with two innings of one-run relief.

Despite the sterling pitching in the nightcap, the story of the day for App State was its prolific offense, headlined by Mann-Fix and Vernon. Mann-Fix went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in the opener and was 2-for-4 with a triple, home run, RBI and two runs in the nightcap. Vernon finished 2-for-5 with a three-run homer in Game 1 and went 3-for-4 with another three-run blast and four total RBI in Game 2.

Tanner Ring had two hits in each game for Arkansas State (20-22, 9-14 Sun Belt), which had a six-game winning streak snapped with its defeat in the nightcap.

The rubber match of the rain-condensed three-game Sun Belt series has been moved to 1 p.m. Saturday at Smith Stadium.

Appalachian State University softball was one-hit by Texas State's Randi Rupp on Friday night as the Bobcats defeated the Mountaineers with the run rule, 12-0, in five innings.

App State fell to 9-41 overall, 2-20 in the Sun Belt, while Texas State improved to 31-18 on the season including 10-9 in conference play. The Black and Gold's one hit came from Heather Josey on a leadoff single right back up the middle in the bottom of the second inning.

The Bobcats scored one run in the first, two in the third, three in the fourth, and six in the fifth. Eight of their 12 runs scored via the long ball as Texas State hit four home runs on the night.

Claire Eosso (0-4) made her fifth start of the season and gave up seven earned runs on seven hits in one and two-thirds innings. In relief, fellow freshman, Annaleise Kennedy, was responsible for 3.1 frames of work with five earned runs surrendered on five hits. Eosso walked the first two batters of the game on eight-straight balls, went out for Kennedy and then came back in with one out in the top of the fourth.

The sophomore, Rupp (23-10) struck out eight, walked none and leads the league in wins with 23. Her season strikeout total is up to 274 against just 55 walks and for her career now, she has punched out 567 batters to go with 122 free passes. The right-handed hurler has given up only one hit in three of her last four outings.

It was Katherine Johnson's senior day as she was recognized prior to first pitch with her parents on the field. Normally a pitcher, Johnson was also given an honorary start at shortstop by head coach, Janice Savage, before being replaced by Natalie Orcutt.

These two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday with first pitch in game one set for 12 p.m.