Drake Zupcic (Waxhaw, N.C./Cuthbertson) capped Appalachian State University baseball’s rally from a late four-run deficit with a walkoff single that lifted the Mountaineers to an 8-7 triumph over Little Rock on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Appalachian State (7-20, 2-9 Sun Belt) scored three runs in the seventh inning, one in the eighth and one in the ninth to complete the improbable comeback from a 7-3 seventh-inning deficit. The win snapped a six-game winning streak in Sun Belt Conference games for Little Rock (13-13, 6-5 Sun Belt) and was only the Trojans’ second defeat in their last nine games overall.
Saturday’s game seemed destined for extra innings when Little Rock reliever Cody McGill (0-2) easily retired the Mountaineers’ first two batters in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, Conner Leonard (Winston-Salem, N.C./Parkland) kickstarted the winning rally with a two-out double off the wall in left center field.
Zupcic, who entered the game in the top of the ninth inning when Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) moved from right field to pitcher, fell into a 1-2 hole against McGill but battled back to make it a full count. In the process, Jason Curtis (Waxhaw, N.C./Marvin Ridge), who pinch-ran for Leonard at second base, moved to third on a wild pitch.
Zupcic ripped the 3-2 pitch from McGill up the middle. Little Rock second baseman Hayden Martin dove to his right to keep the ball in the infield but by the time he got to his feet and made the throw to first, Zupcic had easily reached base while Curtis crossed home plate with the winning run.
The rally started in earnest in the bottom of the seventh when App State cut the Trojans’ 7-3 lead to 7-6 on an RBI single by Matt Vernon (Advance, N.C./Davie County) and a two-run base hit by Tyler Stroup (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson).
Appalachian drew even in the eighth when Vernon was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs.
Bauk (1-0) earned the first win of his career by sitting Little Rock down in order in the top of the ninth.
Zupcic’s walkoff winner aside, Leonard and Stroup played the hero roles for the Mountaineers on Saturday. Leonard went a season-best 3-for-5 with leadoff hits in the crucial eighth and ninth innings while Stroup drove in three of App State’s eight runs. Stroup also made perhaps the biggest play of the game when he gunned down a runner at the plate from left field to keep the Trojans from tacking on any more runs in the seventh.
Appalachian State goes for its first Sun Belt series victory of the season on Sunday when the clubs play the rubber match of their three-game set at Smith Stadium. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
The Catawba Valley Community College baseball team fell in both games of a doubleheader to Patrick Henry Community College on the road, 5-0 and 14-4.
In game one that the Red Hawks lost 5-0. Charles Hall struck out eight for CVCC, allowing only one earned run on four hits through six innings, however the Red Hawks did not get any run support in suffering the loss.
In game two that the Red Hawks lost 14-4, Randal Ortiz led CVCC with a two-run home run and a total of three RBI despite the setback. Ty Andrus scored twice , once in the first inning, and scoring on Ortiz's home run in the third.
However, much like in game one, the CVCC offense was limited, as they only had four hits in this contest.
CVCC falls to 17-17 on the season, 3-2 in in conference play. The Red Hawks and Patrick henry square off again Sunday in Virginia at 12 noon.
Appalachian State University baseball couldn’t cash in on early opportunities to take control of the ballgame and went on to suffer a 9-3 loss to Little Rock in the opening game of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series on Friday night at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Facing an early 2-0 deficit, Appalachian State (6-20, 1-9 Sun Belt) put runners on second and third base with nobody out in third and fourth innings. However, instead of potentially taking a commanding lead, the Mountaineers came away with only one run and still trailed 2-1 after four frames.
App State was still within striking distance at 3-1 going into the seventh inning but four Mountaineer pitchers combined to issue four walks and hit three batters over the course of the seventh and eighth stanzas. Little Rock batted around in each inning and, despite only recording five hits, the Trojans scored three runs in each frame to turn their slim 3-1 lead into a 9-1 advantage.
Appalachian scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning but it was too little, too late for the Mountaineers, who fell to 0-4 in Sun Belt series openers this season.
Beau Myers (Thomasville, N.C./Wesleyan Christian Academy) highlighted four Mountaineers with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) went 2-for-4 with an RBI while Tanner Mann-Fix (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) and Conner Leonard (Winston-Salem, N.C./Reagan) also had two hits apiece to help pace Appalachian’s 11-hit attack.
Freshman starter Bobby Hampton (Pikeville, N.C./Aycock) pitched well, striking out six and leaving the game with the Mountaineers trailing just 3-1 in the seventh. However, the southpaw was charged with two runs after his departure and suffered the loss to fall to 1-4 on the campaign.
Ryan Scott (the nation’s leading hitter with a .500 batting average coming into the game) and Dalton Thomas combined to go 7-for-8 with five RBI and four runs scored to lead Little Rock (13-12, 6-4 Sun Belt) to its seventh win in eight games.
The clubs continue their Sun Belt series on Saturday. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Smith Stadium.
The Coker Baseball Team (21-13, 7-6) shut out Lenoir-Rhyne (25-11, 6-7), 5-0, on Friday evening in a South Atlantic Conference game at Bears Field.
The Cobras’ Dallas Baldwin (Burlington, N.C.) threw a five-hit shutout while striking out nine batters in addition to improving to 3-3 on the season.
Coker’s Colton Henthorne (Lenoir, N.C.) hit a two-run home run after Jack Leech (Miami, Fla.) hit a solo shot – both in the fifth inning – to lead the Cobras to the victory. Henthorne finished with three hits and two runs scored on the night.
Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore Austin Hancock (Defiance, Ohio) (5-1) suffered his first loss of the year. Hancock allowed three runs in five innings of work while striking out four batters.
Lenoir-Rhyne and Coker resume the South Atlantic Conference weekend series with a doubleheader at Bears Field on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1pm.
Catawba County Native Rick Strunk to be Keynote Speaker of Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame BanquetWritten by Jason Savage
For more than 30 years Rick Strunk was an integral part of high school sports in North Carolina, and now the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Famer will deliver the keynote address as the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame enshrines its 2016 class.
This year’s Hall of Fame Banquet is set for Monday, May 9 at city of Hickory’s Highland Recreation Center. Members of the 2016 class of inductees will be introduced during a 4 p.m. press conference Tuesday, April 12 at Highland Recreation Center.
“The Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame has established a well-earned reputation for attracting some of the top names in sports broadcasting and media as its featured speaker,” said Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame chairman JuJu Phillips. “Rick Strunk has been one of the best at what he does. We are honored to have him return to his roots to share his memories and stories of covering and following many members of the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame.”
A native of Newton and graduate of Newton-Conover High School, Strunk attended the University of North Carolina as Morehead Scholar. He developed extensive radio, television and newspaper experience as sports director of WNNC Radio and sports editor of The Observer News Enterprise. He moved on to become director of public relations for Lenoir-Rhyne University and sports information director at Furman University before joining the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) in 1986.
Strunk’s career serving the association was regularly recognized. He received Distinguished Service Awards from the NCHSAA, the N.C. Athletic Director’s Association and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. In 2013, he earned the National Federation Citation award, one of the mostly highly regarded achievements nationally in high school athletics and performing arts.
He was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame in 2014, one of the association’s many programs he helped initiate. He also helped launch the NCHSAA student-athlete program, the NCHSAA Record Book and the association’s intern program.
In addition to serving as NCHSAA media liaison, Strunk created NCHSAA content and designed countless publications and championship game programs, and coordinated press releases, content for the NCHSAA website, the scholar-athlete program, the Wells Fargo Cup competition, the NCHSAA Hall of Fame, NCHSAA Day activities and the athlete of the year program.
Strunk, 62, retired from the NCHSAA at the end of 2015.
Established in 2000, the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame recognizes the extraordinary efforts and achievements of athletes, coaches, teams and contributors, while also reinforcing a sense of history and tradition in Catawba County. Speakers for past hall of fame induction banquets include NASCAR legends and Catawba County natives Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett, Carolina Panthers play-by-play radio broadcaster Mick Mixon and former Appalachian State University Head Football Coach Jerry Moore.
In addition to celebrating the 2016 Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame inductees, the May 9 banquet also salutes Student Athletes of the Year from the public and private high schools in Catawba County.
Tickets for the May 9 Hall of Fame Banquet are on sale for $25 each. The banquet includes a meal provided by Boxcar Grille. Tickets are available at high schools throughout Catawba County, the Hickory Highland Recreation Center, L.P. Frans Stadium and at the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce. Discount tickets are available for table reservations by contacting the Chamber, 828-328-6111.
Nine former Appalachian State University football student-athletes performed for representatives from 21 National Football League teams during the program’s annual Pro Day on Thursday at the Appalachian Athletic Center and Sofield Family Indoor Practice Facility.
Appalachian State’s Pro Day participants included wide receiver Bobo Beathard (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield), defensive lineman Ronald Blair (Greensboro, Ga./Greene County), offensive lineman Jesse Chapman (Cookeville, Tenn./Cookeville), offensive lineman Davante Harris (Blythewood, S.C./Blythewood), wide receiver Malachi Jones (Roswell, Ga./Central Gwinnett), place kicker Zach Matics (Jacksonville, N.C./Southwest-Onslow), wide receiver Simms McElfresh (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian), linebacker Brandon McGowan (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) and defensive back Doug Middleton (Winston-Salem, N.C./Parkland). All nine executed a long series of weightroom and on-field testing before going through individual position drills.
According to Appalachian’s director of strength and conditioning and professional football liaison Mike Sirignano, all nine former Mountaineers performed well and impressed the assembled scouts on Thursday. Some of the most impressive achievements included Jones turning in the fastest 40-yard dash time of the day at 4.47 seconds, Middleton’s 10-foot, 11-inch broad jump and Chapman bench-pressing 225 pounds 32 times. During position drills, Blair snagged a one-handed interception while dropping into coverage and Matics drilled a 65-yard field goal.
Next up for the Mountaineers’ pro football hopefuls are a series of individual workouts with NFL teams. The 2016 NFL Draft is set for April 28-30 in Chicago.
The South Atlantic Conference will induct four members into the 2016 Hall of Fame Class, the League announced today. Those earning honors are Lenoir-Rhyne alum Roman Davis, Catawba alum Andre Godfrey, Carson-Newman alum Marci (Mitchell) Whiteside and Newberry alum Eric Wells. The honorees will be formally inducted into the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame at the Hall of Fame Banquet in Asheville, N.C. on June 9, 2016.
Davis finished his career as one of Lenoir-Rhyne’s most decorated men’s basketball players in school history. His career spanned from 2001-05 and he was named the League’s Player of the Year during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. He was the first Player in League history to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons and is one of just three players in League history to earn Player of the Year honors twice in their careers. Davis was named the 2004-05 South Atlantic Conference Male Athlete of the Year after earning first-team All-SAC honors three times in his career. He was selected the SAC’s Freshman of the Year in 2001-02 and was the Men’s Basketball Tournament MVP during the 2003 Championship. A 2004-05 first team All-Region honoree, Davis currently ranks No. 7 all-time in Lenoir-Rhyne history with 1,619 points and is also No. 7 all-time at LR with a 55 percent stroke from the field. His 147 career blocked shots is good for No. 4 on the Bears’ all-time list, while his average of 15.3 points per game has him ranked No. 8. He led Lenoir-Rhyne to a pair of South Atlantic Conference Regular Season Championships in 2002-03 and 2003-04 as the Bears claimed the SAC Tournament Title in 2003.
Davis currently plays overseas with in Montenegro in the FIBA for Team Kosarkaski. He was named 2008 Imola Summer League Player of the Year as a member of Indesti Fabriano in Italy. Davis has also played in Mexico and toured with the Harlem Globetrotters for five years. In the off season, Davis works for Novant Health in the organization’s insurance sector.
Catawba County Easter Baseball Classic:
Bunker Hill: 4
Fred T. Foard: 0
St. Stephens: 1
Shelby Easter Classic:
South Caldwell: 9
Kings Mountain: 2
East Burke: 0
Matt Vernon (Advance, N.C./Davie County) and Tanner Mann-Fix (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) had three hits apiece, Tyler Stroup (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) drove in five runs and Seth Hardin (Climax, N.C./Providence Grove) turned in five strong innings on the mound to lead Appalachian State University baseball to a 12-1 romp over North Carolina Central on Wednesday evening at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.
Appalachian State’s 12 runs were a season high and its 15 hits fell just two short of its season best. The Mountaineers did all of their damage in the first five innings, scoring two runs in the first, one in the second, one in the third, five in the fourth and three in the fifth to jump out to a commanding 12-0 lead.
Vernon was the primary catalyst of App State’s outburst at the plate. The junior drove in the Mountaineers’ first run with an RBI triple in the first inning, added a two-run double in the fourth and capped the impressive evening with another double in the fifth. He finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, three RBI and four runs scored.
Mann-Fix came around to score after each of his three singles while Stroup recorded his career-high five RBI on a run-scoring groundout in the first and two-run singles in the fourth and fifth innings.
Appalachian State, which came into the game hitting just .199 with runners on base and .180 with runners in scoring position, went 11-for-26 (.423) with runners on base and 8-for-16 (.500) with runners in scoring position on Wednesday night.
In all, the first five batters in the Mountaineers’ order (Mann-Fix, Vernon, Stroup, Grayson Atwood (Mt. Pleasant, N.C./Mt. Pleasant) and Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury)) combined to go 12-for-20 with 10 RBI and nine runs scored.
Not to be overshadowed by the offensive explosion was the effort turned in by four App State pitchers, who combined to limit hot-hitting N.C. Central to just one unearned run on seven hits.
Hardin led the way, as he needed only 61 pitches to toss five shutout innings and earn the first win of his collegiate career. The right-handed freshman pounded the strike zone all night and allowed just two hits over his five scoreless frames. He struck out two and didn’t issue a walk.
Right-handed relievers Travis Holden (Advance, N.C./North Forsyth), Matt Schaeffer (Port St. Lucie, Fla./John Carroll Catholic) and Caleb McCann (McLeansville, N.C./Northeast Guilford) worked the final four innings of the gem. They surrendered just one unearned run and scattered five hits over their four innings.
Making the pitching performance even more impressive is the fact the N.C. Central (13-14) scored nine runs or more three times in the past eight days, including Tuesday’s 14-1 rout over High Point.
Appalachian State (6-19, 1-8 Sun Belt) continues its four-game homestand this weekend when it hosts red-hot Little Rock (12-12, 5-4 Sun Belt), the winner of six of its last seven games, for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series. Game times are set for 6 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Smith Stadium.
The Lenoir-Rhyne Softball Team (29-7, 8-0) ran its winning streak to 10 straight games with a doubleheader sweep of Newberry (22-12, 3-5), 7-6 and 8-0, Wednesday afternoon at Bears and remained unbeaten in South Atlantic Conference play.
Game One – Lenoir-Rhyne 7, Newberry 6
Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore outfielder Christina Walker (Roxboro, N.C.) came through with the walk-off, run-scoring infield single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning – plating junior catcher Sarah Kenley (Charlotte, N.C.) - as the Bears rallied from a 6-3 deficit to take the win.
Newberry surged ahead with six straight runs in the middle of the game highlighted by a two-run single from Mallory Gerndt (Burke, Va.) but couldn’t hold on in the end.
Lenoir-Rhyne was led by senior third baseman Jordin Phillips (Hampstead, N.C.) with two hits and two runs batted in while freshman Brandi Parks (Roaring River, N.C.) earned the win on the mound after pitching four scoreless innings and improving to 9-0 on the season.
Devon Morrison (Tampa, Fla.) suffered the loss on the mound for the Wolves, who were also hurt by five errors in the contest.
Game Two – Lenoir-Rhyne 8, Newberry 0 (six innings)
The Bears took control early with a pair of runs in both the first and second innings, respectively, to finish off the sweep the sweep of the Wolves.
Phillips and sophomore shortstop Madison Carter (Bessemer City, N.C.) both finished with three hits and two runs batted in for Lenoir-Rhyne, who run-ruled Newberry in six innings.
Senior Maryann Hoskins (Havelock, N.C.) also fired a one-hit shutout for the Bears. Hoskins struck out five batters and improved to 9-4 on the year. Morrison (7-6) was tagged with the loss for Newberry.
Lenoir-Rhyne remains at home to host Mars Hill in a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.