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Appalachian State's baseball team came away with an impressive Sun Belt Conference win.

Joel McDaniel's tiebreaking home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning lifted App State to a 7-6 home victory against division-leading Little Rock on Saturday at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.

"I felt good all day today, so I was glad I could come through for the boys right there," he said.

A strong start from hard-luck pitcher Andrew Vaccacio and two RBI doubles from Drew Beck helped the Mountaineers establish a 6-2 lead through five innings. The Trojans tied the game with a three-run top of the eighth, scoring the last two runs on a two-out error with the bases loaded, but their chance to take the lead ended when McDaniel moved left from his spot at shortstop to field a bouncing ball behind second base and make a hurried flip to Bailey Welch for a forceout.

Two pitches into App State's half of the eighth, McDaniel drilled a fastball over the left-field fence for a no-doubt homer off Justin Garcia, who entered the game with nine saves and a whopping 65 strikeouts in 44.0 innings.

Pitching in injured teammate Drake Zupcic's shoes after he ripped a shoelace while covering home plate in the previous inning, closer Luke Watts earned the win by throwing a scoreless ninth. A runner reached first base before the game ended on a deep line drive to defensive substitute Bobby Hampton, who has been contributing as a left fielder even though his primary role is as a relief pitcher.

"Joel McDaniel comes up and makes a really big swing, and then you hand the ball right back to Watty, who you've got confidence in to go back out and finish it," fill-in head coach and full-time assistant Britt Johnson said as he rocked his three-month-old twin boys, Cade Royster and Dax Ficklen, in his arms. "He walks out and makes some big pitches, and it was a really nice play by Bobby Hampton — that's not an easy play with a pitcher out in left field with some of the injuries we've had. Bobby goes out there in no-doubles (defense) and makes a big catch.

"I'm just really proud of the resiliency of our guys today."

Vaccacio gave up six hits and just one earned run while amassing six strikeouts in six innings, marking the fifth time in nine healthy starts this season that the left-handed starter with one win has allowed two earned runs or less in at least six innings of work.

Offensively, McDaniel's 3-for-4 day also included a double, and Beck finished with three RBIs thanks to a 2-for-3 performance in which he scored twice. CJ Brown also went 2-for-3 with one RBI, and Beau Myers had a sacrifice fly to produce App State's first run.

After McDaniel scored on Myers' third-inning flyball to tie the game, Beck drove in Riley Smith from first with a fourth-inning double and scored on Brown's double in the next at-bat. Little Rock cut App State's lead to 3-2 before Alex Leshock and Smith scored with two away on a looping double down the left-field line by Beck, who alertly scored from second when a wide throw pulled the first baseman off the bag on Brown's chopper to the right side.

Taking a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning following a scoreless seventh from relief pitcher Kaleb Bowman, App State (12-30, 4-16) still had a three-run advantage with two out and one runner on. The Trojans (22-18, 11-8) followed an RBI single with a single that put two runners on, prompting a move to Watts, and he damaged his left shoe midway through issuing a walk that loaded the bases.

A weakly hit, end-of-the bat chopper that traveled about 70 feet down the first-base line forced Watts to make a high-velocity, close-range throw that couldn't be secured as Little Rock hitter Chase Coker approached first, and two runs scored on the play.

Despite the deflating turn of events, McDaniel made a stellar play in the field and responded with a quick-strike answer for Appalachian.

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Teams hit several NCAA Division II Provisional marks Saturday at the Tri-Star Classic at Kermit Tipton Stadium on the campus of East Tennessee State University.

Junior Paiton Fair, a Newton-Conover grad, finished second for the Bears in the women’s 800-meter dash in a school-record and provisional-qualifying time of 2:12.34.

Lenoir-Rhyne senior All-American Haylea Salamon (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA) also qualified provisionally to the Division II Championship after winning the women’s discus (148’9”). Salamon is looking to qualify for the national championship meet for the second time in her collegiate career: she advanced to the finals in 2015.

Sophomore Autumn Drayton (Charlotte, N.C.) was third in the women’s discus (145’9”) as well for the Bears.

In addition, the Bears’ women’s 400-meter relay team – consisting of sophomore Kayonna Lewis (Fleming Island, Fla.), freshmen Saidah Hardwick (Rolesville, N.C.) and Mya Jones (Newton, N.C.) and junior Dakota Alston (Irmo, S.C.) – set a new school-record with a time of 47.70 seconds.

On the men’s side, Lenoir-Rhyne won the 400-meter relay race with a 41.80. The quartet included senior T.J. Smith (Charleston, S.C.), sophomores P.J. Lotharp (Indian Trail, N.C.) and Kaynmon Maddox, a South Caldwell grad, along with junior C.J. Williams (Oakland, Tenn.).

Lenoir-Rhyne next competes at the University of Mount Olive’s Last Chance Outdoor Meet on Sunday, May 13, in Mount Olive, N.C.

Appalachian State softball fell to the Georgia Southern Eagles in both games of the doubleheader on April 28. Defensive errors were to blame in both tight games.

The Apps dropped their sixth walk-off loss after game one, 8-7. With a similar tied ball game at 7-7 in game two, the Eagles pulled away after three errors on the App State defense in the sixth inning. The Eagles took the second game 9-12.

Game One (L, 7-8)
The Mountaineers put up runs in each of the first three innings in game one. Eight of nine Mountaineers in the lineup had at least one hit. Keri White, Haley Stewart and Avery Wheatley each had two hits apiece. Kenzie Longanecker had five strikeouts in the circle and walked only two batters in 29 at-bats.

In the first inning, White lead off with a single through the left side. Jenny Dodd reached on a fielder's choice, and White was safe at second on the play due to a throwing error by the shortstop. With two Mountaineers on base, Heather Josey grounded into a double play but not before White scored the first run of the game.

In the second inning, Stewart singled up the middle to get on base for Baylee Morton at the plate who blasted a two-RBI home run to right field. Megan Walker and Wheatley each followed with a single. Longanecker had two three-up, three-down innings, including the bottom of the second. The Apps widened the lead 3-0 after two innings.

With two outs in the top of the third, Stewart sent out her second home run of the season to bring the score to 4-0. The Eagles scored one in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly and two more in the bottom of the fourth. The Mountaineers held onto the lead until the bottom of the sixth when the Eagles scored two after a walk and a two-RBI home run.

A determined offense allowed the Mountaineers to pull ahead once again in the top of the seventh inning. Wheatley and White started off the rally with two singles both to shortstop. H. Josey doubled down the leftfield line for the RBI to tie it up at 5-5. A. Josey drew the walk, and Ally Walters singled down the right field line to bring White home for a clutch hit and the 6-5 lead. On a wild pitch, the Mountaineers scored another.

After taking the lead, the Apps fell to the Eagles in the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back singles and an error from Wheatley at shortstop allowed one run to score for the Eagles. With a single up the middle, the Eagles tied it up at 7-7 before another single up the middle scored the winning run for the walk-off W.

Game Two
Morton stepped up at the plate for the Mountaineers with two home runs for a total of three homers on the day. Despite nine runs from the Mountaineers, the Eagles took the win after pulling away from a tied score with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Georgia Southern started with the lead after scoring one in the bottom of the first. Morton's first homer of the game occurred in the top of the second inning after A. Josey singled and Stewart reached on an error to put the Mountaineers on top 3-1.

The Eagles regained the lead in the bottom of the same inning, scoring six runs on five hits including a three-RBI home run. The Apps tied it up at 7-7 in the top of the third inning. With two outs, A. Josey doubled to the centerfield fence and Stewart drew a walk. Walters' double to left center brought in two RBI. Morton followed up with a two-RBI homer for the Mountaineers' four runs in the third inning.

After three scoreless innings for both teams, Georgia Southern managed to score five more runs on three hits and three errors from the Mountaineer defense. An error lead off the inning followed by two singles. A sacrifice fly scored the first run before a three-RBI home run brought the score to 12-7.

In the top of the seventh, Dodd and H. Josey drew back-to-back walks before both pinch runners – Gabby Buruato and Laura Sales – advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. A. Josey sent a sacrifice fly to leftfield for Buruato to score. Stewart's single up the middle allowed the Mountaineers to score again, but App State ultimately fell to the Eagles 9-12.

The Hickory Crawdads lost their fourth straight game with a 4-2 loss against the Delmarva Shorebirds. The 'Dads strung together 6 hits on the night but were unable to overcome a pair of Delmarva homeruns and costly walks.

Catcher Sam Huff got the scoring started in the bottom of the first with a line drive homerun to left field.

The Shorebirds responded in the top of the fourth with homeruns on the first two pitches of the inning. First baseman Seamus Curran crushed a ball over the 32-foot-high signage in right field to tie the game. Center fielder TJ Nichting gave the Shorebirds the lead with another homerun to right.

Crawdads first baseman Tyler Ratliff evened the score once again in the bottom of the fifth with his first homerun of the season.

'Dads starting pitcher Jean Casanova lasted 5 innings, giving up 2 earned runs. He allowed 8 hits, struck out four and walked one. Right hander Joe Kuzia took over in relief and put up two and two thirds scoreless frames before exiting with two runners on. Joe Barlow came in and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. He waked the next two batters to bring in a pair of runs for the Shorebirds before getting the final out of the inning on a grounder to short.

The 'Dads went 3 up 3 down in the eighth. With two outs in the ninth, Ratliff hit an infield single that was followed up by another single by second baseman Kole Enright. Designated hitter Chad Smith struck out to strand two runners and end the game.

The Appalachian State women's track and field team won four events at the Mountaineer Outdoor Meet on Saturday.

The meet also marked the end of an era for the Ike Belk Track, which hosted its final meet. The track has been the home of the Mountaineer track and field program for over 50 years.

Senior Hunter Welborn (Booneville, N.C./Starmount) captured the high jump with a season-best mark of 5-6.50 and junior Imani Chapman (Raleigh, N.C./Sanderson) won the 100-meter hurdles, topping her PR by nearly half a second with a time of 13.79.

Junior K'Lynn Beal (Raleigh, N.C./Broughton) recorded a first-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 18-8.50, which bettered her PR in the event by over five inches. Junior Ila Mumford (Rural Hill, N.C./Parkland) finished right behind in second, with a mark of 18-0.50. Beal also won the triple jump with a new PR of 40-6.75.

Also posting a victory on the day was freshman Samara Gibson (Clayton, N.C./Corinth-Holders), who claimed first in the 200-meter dash with a new PR time of 24.37 seconds.

App State posted four of the top five finishers in the 5,000-meter run. Freshman Sarah Hajnos (Apex, N.C./Apex) crossed second in 18:38.69. Sophomore Megan Scannell (Nottingham, N.H./Coe Brown Northwood Academy) was third in 19:02.83, sophomore Natalie Richardson (Chapel Hill, N.C./Carrboro) was fourth in 19:31.87 and senior Leigh Harrow (Deltaville, Va./Middlesex) finished fifth in 19:54.26.

Freshman Annika Merkh (Haddonfield, N.J./Haddon Township) was second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:49.98 and senior Chelsey Hargrave (McLeansville, N.C./Williams) crossed second in the 100-meter dash with a new PR of 12.07 seconds.

The 4x100-meter relay team of Beal, Gibson, Hargrave and Chapman were second in 46.09 seconds.

The shotput saw senior Ashley Muschiatti (Newark, Del./Padua Academy) place second with a toss of 41-11.50 and senior Amber Daniel(Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) finish in third with a new PR toss of 41-8.00. Muschiatti also posted a fourth-place finish in the hammer with a PR mark of 160-8 and Daniel was fifth in the event with a PR toss of 159-4. Senior Jessica Ricks (Rocky Mount, N.C./Northern Nash) also posted a new PR in the hammer with a throw of 141-9.

Muschiatti also notched another PR in the discus, covering 123-2 with her toss.

In the pole vault, junior Sofia San Miguel (Cary, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons) placed third with a new PR mark of 12-0.00. Junior Hannah Emery (Battle Creek, Mich./Battle Creek Lakeview) was fourth, also clearing 12-0.00.

The 1,5000-meter run saw junior Katelyn Butler (Corning, N.Y./Corning Pained Post) set a new PR with a fourth-place finish in 4:41.36. Sophomore Sarah Venable (Cary, N.C./Cary) was fifth in the event with a time of 4:47.74.

In the 800-meter run, freshman Ann Mosely Whitsett (Homewood, Ala./Homewood) would set a new PR with a fifth-place finish in 2:22.38.

In the final meet on the Ike Belk Track, the Appalachian State men's track and field team won seven total events (six individual, one relay) at the Mountaineer Outdoor Meet on Saturday.

The Ike Belk Track served as the home for the Mountaineer track and field program for over 50 seasons and has served as host to numerous meets since its opening in 1966.

Sophomore Jalen Virgil (Lawrenceville, Ga./Mountain View) continued to climb the record book in the 100-meter dash. He posted a time of 10.44 in the preliminary round, which tied his season-best mark that was fourth on the all-time list. In the finals, Virgil crossed in 10.32 seconds, which now ranks as the third fastest time in the event in program history.

Sophomore Elliott Graves (Reidsville, N.C./Rockingham Early College) swept both the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles. He posted a time of 14.17 seconds in the 100-meters hurdles and crossed in 53.89 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles to win both events.

Senior Ryan Hastings (Matthews, N.C./Porter Ridge) captured the 800-meter run in 1:49.83 and junior Brandon Smith (Fayetteville, N.C./Douglas Byrd) crossed first in the 400-meter dash in 48.17 seconds.

Senior Isaiah Relliford (Winston-Salem, N.C./White Oak) took home first-place honors in the triple jump, covering a new PR distance of 49-3.50. Relliford also notched a third-place finish in the long jump with a PR mark of 22-7.75, while freshman Senico Haines (Charlotte, N.C./Berry) also set a new PR in the triple jump, placing sixth with a mark of 21-9.00.

The 4x100-meter relay tandem of sophomore Jabari Johnson (Yokosuka, Japan/Nile C. Kinnick), freshman Brenton Ervin (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creed) Virgil and Graves were first in 40.99 seconds.

Jabari Johnson also notched a second-place finish in the 200-meter dash in 21.32 seconds.

Junior Peter Kenn (Clemmons, N.C./West Forsyth) posted a new PR toss in the hammer throw, covering 164-9, which was good for third-place. Sophomore Michael Albert (Buchanan, Va./James River) was fifth in the event with a toss of 143-4.

Kenn also registered a second-place finish in the discus, covering 150-11 with his throw. Albert placed fourth in the discus, setting a new PR with a toss of 149-2.

Junior Michael Utecht (New Hill, N.C./Apex) notched a third-place finish in the pole vault, clearing 16-0.50. Sophomore Jackson Widener (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) placed fifth in the event with a mark of 14-6.75.

In the high jump, sophomore Jordan Dale (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) finished second, tying his season-best mark of 6-8.00. Sophomore Daniel Lauffenburger (Winston-Salem, N.C./Forsyth Country Day) notched a new PR height of 6-5.50, which was good for third-place.

Senior Evan Georges (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) placed third in the 1,500-meter run on 3:54.87. Freshman Zachary Mercer (Mooresville, N.C./Mooresville Senior) clocked a new PR in the event with a time of 4:01.75.

The Mountaineers will now take a week off before competing at the Sun Belt Championships on May 11 through May 13 at Texas State.

Sunday, 29 April 2018 22:15

App's Gossett Drafted by Minnesota Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings made history by picking Appalachian State offensive lineman Colby Gossett in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Gossett, a native of Cumming, Ga., became the first offensive guard from the Sun Belt Conference to ever be selected. He played right guard for most of his college career, helping the Mountaineers rank in the top 20 nationally in sacks allowed and the top 25 in rushing yards per game in each of his four seasons as a starter.

Gossett capped his App State career with 46 consecutive starts before appearing at both the prestigious Reese's Senior Bowl in January and the NFL Scouting Combine a month later. Taken with the 213th overall pick, Gossett joins Daniel Kilgore (2011) and Derrick Graham (1990) on Appalachian’s list of drafted offensive linemen in the last 30 years.

In addition to Gossett and Kilgore (Miami Dolphins), Kendall Lamm (Houston Texans) and Parker Collins (Pittsburgh Steelers) are currently with NFL franchises to give the league four offensive linemen from a program known for its physicality, run production and pass protection.

The Mountaineers went 36-10 with Gossett as a starter, and he made the All-Sun Belt first team in back-to-back years as App State secured a conference title and won its bowl game in both 2016 and 2017. As a senior, he had a team-leading 76 knockdown blocks and gave up no sacks for a balanced offense that ranked No. 2 nationally in fewest sacks allowed and No. 22 nationally with 223.6 rushing yards per game.

The Vikings' coaching staff includes defensive coordinator George Edwards, who served as an App State assistant from 1992-95.

An early pitchers’ duel gave way to a high-scoring affair, as division-leading Little Rock opened a Sun Belt Conference series at Appalachian State with a 10-4 victory against the Mountaineers on Friday night.

The Trojans (22-18, 11-7) broke a scoreless tie with a four-run fourth inning and added three more runs in the fifth before Bailey Welch’s two-run single and Conner Leonard’s RBI single highlighted a four-run bottom of the fifth for App State (11-30, 3-16).

Appalachian’s four-run frame, which began with Kendall McGowan reaching on a single, Beau Myers hitting a double and Alex Leshock getting hit by a pitch to load the bases for Welch, matched the team’s highest-scoring inning of the season. Eight of the Mountaineers’ nine starters had one hit apiece in the game.

After App State cut its deficit to 7-4, Little Rock responded with a two-run sixth. Bobby Hampton pitched a scoreless seventh after relieving starter Colin Schmid, and Jason Cornatzer threw a scoreless ninth.

The Hickory Crawdads fell to the Delmarva Shorebirds 7-1 on Friday night in the series opener. The 'Dads were held to just four hits in their third consecutive loss.

The Shorebirds drove Crawdads starting pitcher AJ Alexy out with two outs in the third inning after he gave up 6 earned runs. Alexy allowed 6 hits, walked three, and struck out three batters. Lefty Sal Mendez came in to pitch 4 1/3 innings of relief, surrendering one run. Hard throwing right hander Alex Speas pitched the final two innings for the 'Dads, shutting down the Shorebird's bats with two scoreless frames.

The lone Crawdads run came in the bottom of the first. Left fielder Eric Jenkins led off the inning with a single before stealing second base. Jenkins leads the South Atlantic League with 12 stolen bases on the year. Right fielder Miguel Aparicio walked to put runners on first and second. Shortstop Ryan Dorow hit a single to load the bases. Catcher Yohel Pozo grounded into a force out of Jenkins at home that kept the bases loaded. Center fielder Pedro Gonzalez hit a sacrifice to center that allowed Aparicio to score from third.

Sunday, 29 April 2018 22:06

Lenoir-Rhyne Women's Lacrosse Downs Wingate

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The Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Lacrosse Team (9-8) advanced to the title game of the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Championship with a 13-6 triumph over host Wingate (6-13) Friday evening in the semifinals at Graham Gill Field. The Bears, the league regular season champions, are the top seed in the tournament while the Bulldogs are seeded fourth.

Lenoir-Rhyne held a 7-5 advantage with 26:11 left in the second half before taking over by scoring the next six goals. The Bears were led by junior midfielder Rachel Elmore (White Plains, Md.) with a game-high five goals, giving her 49 scores on the season.

LR junior attacker Gabby Sousa (Delran, N.J.) added three scores – giving her a school single-season record 59 goals on the year – while sophomore attacker Cathleen Gaffney (Allentown, Pa.) finished with a school-record eight assists as the Bears defeated the Bulldogs for the second time this year.

Six players scored one goal for the Bulldogs while Nina Cifolilli (Kent Island, Md.) dished out two assists and Arion Pierre (Haymarket, Va.) stopped 12 shots in goal despite the loss.

For Lenoir-Rhyne, senior and league player of the year Ines Flueck (Coppell, Texas) made six saves and earned the victory in goal. LR held the advantage in both shots taken (30-22) and ground balls (10-8) as well.

Lenoir-Rhyne is making its fourth appearance in the conference title game. The Bears advanced to the finals in three consecutive seasons (2014-16).

LR won for the seventh time in its last nine contests and improved to 6-0 all-time against Wingate.

Lenoir-Rhyne will face either second-seeded Queens (9-8) or third-seeded Catawba (11-7) in the league tournament finals on Sunday at 4:00 p.m., in Wingate, N.C.

The No. 9 Lenoir-Rhyne Softball Team (42-8), the top seed in the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Championship, fell to eighth-seeded Carson-Newman (30-19) by a 6-0 score in the quarterfinal round on Friday afternoon on the campus of Anderson University.

Carson-Newman’s Katie Pritchett (Ringgold, Ga.) hit a grand slam in the third inning to help the Eagles take control while Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) improved to 20-12 after pitching a three-hit shutout. Rinus, the 2018 league player of the year, also struck out eight batters.

Lenoir-Rhyne junior Brandi Parks (Roaring River, N.C.) fell to 19-5 after suffering the loss.

The Bears were held scoreless for the first time this season and for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Carson-Newman on April 29, 2017, in the conference tournament.

Lenoir-Rhyne is ranked No. 2 in the latest NCAA Division II Southeast Regional rankings.

Carson-Newman takes on fifth-seeded Anderson (32-15) in the league tournament semifinals Saturday at Noon. The Trojans defeated Wingate by a 3-1 score in their opening round contest. LR will likely earn a berth to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament, which will be announced sometime next week.

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