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Joel McDaniel's first-inning grand slam ignited a hot start. By game's end, Appalachian State players had more reasons to exit the dugout and exchange high-fives.

App State clinched its first-ever Sun Belt Conference Championship berth and set a program record for runs in a Sun Belt game with an 18-6 victory at Coastal Carolina on Friday night.

McDaniel's grand slam produced a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning, and the Mountaineers were clinging to a 6-5 lead in the third when reliever Kaleb Bowman induced an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. Bowman followed that effort with four consecutive scoreless innings, giving his offense ample time to again gain separation from the Chanticleers.

App State followed the 6-4-3 double started by shortstop Luke Allison with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, and Phillip Cole's three-run homer to left-center gave the Mountaineers an 11-5 lead in the fifth.

Leading 13-5 in the seventh, McDaniel delivered his second homer of the game with a 406-foot blast that punctuated a 3-for-3 night with five RBIs and five runs scored, and Riley Smith made it back-to-back homers with a solo shot to left.

App State (22-29, 13-15) is currently alone at No. 9 in the 12-team Sun Belt, which has a 10-team tournament that begins Tuesday in Conway. The Mountaineers are locked into a single-elimination game between the 8/9 seeds on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Bowman improved to 6-1 this season with his stellar relief effort, which included one hit allowed and four strikeouts in 4.2 innings. With Brandon Boone starting on the mound, Coastal entered the eighth inning with only three hits in the game, and App State got an inning apiece from Jack Hartman and Andrew Papp to close the victory.

Offensively, in its fifth Sun Belt season, App State had never scored more than 13 runs in a league game.

Luke Drumheller and Tyler Leek also posted three hits Friday, Cole finished with four RBIs and Smith scored three times. Leek, Drumheller, Kendall McGowan and Cole scored two times apiece.

Leek opened the game with a single off Austin Kitchen and reached second on a fielding error. He scored on Drumheller's one-out single, and Drumheller moved to second on McGowan's single before advancing to third on a walk to Cole. McDaniel homered on a 2-0 fastball to put App State in position for a bounce-back performance following its 19-3 loss in the series opener.

Coastal responded immediately with two runs thanks to a leadoff walk, a bunt single with a run-scoring error, a groundout and a sac fly in the bottom of the first. Leek's leadoff double in the second helped him score on a two-out infield single by Cole, and the Chants scored once in a high-energy bottom half of the second that ended with a Boone strikeout stranding two runners.

Coastal threatened to pull even by drawing back-to-back walks and then getting hit by a one-out pitch in the third. Bowman took the mound to face Zach Biermann, who hit a two-run single, but Bowman followed a walk that reloaded the bases with the big double-play groundout turned by Allison, Drumheller and Robbie Young.

The Mountaineers' second offensive push occurred after the Chants retired App State's first two batters in the fourth. Walks to McDaniel and Smith set up Young's RBI single, and a walk to Allison preceded a pitching change. Leek earned an RBI by being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Appalachian broke the game open with its five-run fifth, which included singles by Drumheller and McGowan to set the stage for Cole's homer. Smith's sacrifice fly and Leek's RBI single pushed the lead to 13-5.

The Suns scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth off a pair of errors from the Hickory Crawdads to put them in front 3-2 in the series opener at Municipal Stadium Friday night.

The frame started with an Omar Meregildo walk before back-to-back singles from Kyle Marinconz and Trey Vickers loaded the bases. In his Suns (18-22) debut, Ricardo Mendez dribbled a ball up the first baseline and reached on a fielder's choice from Crawdads' (26-14) starter Tyree Thompson (L, 0-1), who threw an errant ball home to allow Meregildo to reach.

After that, Cody Wilson hit a sacrifice bunt that plated Vickers to tie the game. Wilson made it safely to first off a throwing error from Thompson. The final run of the frame scored on a Gilbert Lara strikeout. The wild pitch carried to the backstop allowing the shortstop to reach first safely and scoring Mendez for the go-ahead run.

The Suns allowed both runs in the top half of the fifth, with Francys Peguero (W, 2-2) on the bump. With runners on second and third, Tyler Depreta-Johnson slapped a ball to short that Lara mishandled and allowed Sherten Apostel to score. With the Crawdads in front 1-0, Jonathan Orneles popped a ball to right, scoring Frainyer Chavez to double the lead.

Outside of the fifth, the pitching was lights out. Peguero finished spinning five innings, allowing just those two runs and fanning four. After that, Chandler Day worked three scoreless innings before handing the ball to Jackson Stoeckinger (S, 3), who closed things out with a scoreless ninth.

The game marked the 17th one-run game out of the first 40 for Hagerstown, moving their record to 7-10 in those contests.

3A:
Marvin Ridge: 8
Alexander Central: 1
Cougars season ends at 23-8.

4A:
Reagan: 8
South Caldwell: 0
Spartans season ends at 22-6

4A:
South Caldwell: 11
Providence: 3
The Spartans advance to the regional finals, taking on Mooresville in a best out of three series.

The Hickory Crawdads scored three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings en route to a 7-5 victory over the Greenville Drive in the series finale on Thursday night at Fluor Field.

Greenville got the scoring started with two runs in the third. Grant Williams led off with a walk and Cole Brannen followed with a single, before a wild pitch put runners at second and third. Two batters later, Triston Casas doubled to right to drive in both and put the home team in front 2-0.

Hickory responded with three in the fourth. Tanner Gardner and Pedro Gonzalez recorded back-to-back RBI triples and Sherten Apostel followed with a sac fly to left, putting the Crawdads in front 3-2.

They would add to the lead with three more in their next at-bat. An RBI single by Matt Whatley scored one ahead of Curtis Terry, who homered to left, his eighth of the season, to score two more and make it a 6-2 game.

The Drive responded with two in the bottom of the fifth. Casas singled to right to score Brannen from second and Tyler Esplin later singled to center to drive in Brandon Howlett, cutting the Hickory advantage to 6-4.

Both teams tacked on a run in the eighth. In the top half, a one-out triple by Gardner, his second of the night, put a runner on for Gonzalez, who doubled to bring him home and push the lead to 7-4. In the bottom half, after a Kervin Suarez single and a Grant Williams double put two on with one out, Brannen score Suarez from third with an RBI groundout to make it 7-5.

Hickory reliever Grant Anderson (4-3) earned the win, throwing 3.0 innings and allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts. Drive starter Chris Machamer (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits in 3.1 innings pitched with one strikeout. Nick Snyder earned his first save of the year, allowing one run on three hits with a pair of Ks over the final 3.0 innings.

Four different Drive hitters recorded two-hit nights, as the team totaled 11 in the loss. Casas went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI, while Brannen was 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Esplin added a 2-for-5 night with a double and an RBI and Williams was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run. Yoan Aybar worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Drive, striking out one.

The Crawdads improve to 26-13 on the first half of the season. Hickory travels to Hagerstown over the weekend. The Crawdads will be back at home on Tuesday taking on the Lexington Legends.

Coastal Carolina capitalized on early command issues and beat Appalachian State 19-3 in Game 1 of their Sun Belt Conference series Thursday.

Mike Koenig’s second-inning grand slam with two away sent home three baserunners who had reached without recording a hit, and Zach Biermann followed a third-inning walk with a three-run homer that put the Chanticleers ahead 8-0.

Coastal Carolina (29-22-1, 14-12) led 12-0 before Drew Beck singled with one out in the seventh, moved to second on Hayden Cross’ walk and scored on an RBI single from Alex Leshock, who went 2-for-2.

The Chanticleers added two more homers in a seven-run seventh that pushed the lead to 19-1. After Andrew Terrell was hit by a pitch in the eighth inning, fellow App State freshman Dalton Williams pulled a two-run homer down the right-field line, giving him two homers on the season.

Tyler Leek, Phillip Cole and Riley Smith also had hits for the Mountaineers (21-29, 12-15). Currently ninth in the league, they still control their ability to qualify for next week’s 10-team Sun Belt Championships, as their final regular-season series resumes Friday at 6 p.m. with Brandon Boone (5-3) scheduled to start on the mound. Tyler Tuthill, Austin Primm, Cam Roberts and Evan Mauldin pitched for App State on Thursday.

Kieton Rivers drew a leadoff walk for Coastal Carolina in the second inning, but App State responded with a timely double play as Tuthill struck out Biermann and Smith threw out the speedy Rivers to erase a steal attempt for the 15th time this season. A hit by pitch and back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Koenig, who homered to left field.

A leadoff double preceded Jake Wright’s RBI single in the third, and Rivers’ walk on a 3-2 pitch set up Biermann’s homer to right.

App State batters struck out 17 times, with Coastal Carolina starter Anthony Veneziano posting nine strikeouts while allowing no runs on three hits in five innings. Nick Parker struck out six batters over the next three innings.

Appalachian State student-athletes pride themselves in giving back to the community of Boone since they are endlessly devoted to the success of the university and its athletic programs.

This past year (May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019), the Mountaineers completed more than 10,474 hours of community service – the most community service hours ever recorded by App State Athletics. These hours include anything from going into elementary school classrooms and reading to students to going on a mission trip with a group of student-athletes through a local church.

“It’s very inspiring to see that you all as student-athletes are able to go out into a community that has embraced you from an athletics standpoint to where you all go out and embrace them from a community standpoint,” said Director of Student-Athlete Development Pierre Banks, a former Mountaineer football player himself. “I always tell people that none of us got to where we are by pulling up our own bootstraps, so to see the athletics department and the community combine in such a way that we can uplift each other is absolutely incredible.”

This year the student-athletes found many different ways to get involved in the community. Several Mountaineer volunteered for a mentoring program for elementary students through the Western Youth Network. Others helped with food drives with the Hunger and Health Coalition, freshman move-in and Habitat for Humanity. Some student-athletes went on hospital visits, met with local Veterans of Foreign Wars groups and helped elementary schools for Mornings with the Mountaineers. Teams participated in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse, Laps for APPS and walking in local holiday parades. Those are just a few of the ways the Mountaineers gave back in 2018-19.

Each year the athletics department determines which team has the most community service hours by taking the total number of hours and players on each team and calculating an average number of hours per student-athlete.

The top team in 2018-19 was women’s soccer with 1,683 hours and an average of 58.06 hours per student-athlete.

“The community of Boone has played such an integral role in supporting our team and athletics as a whole,” women’s soccer junior Kristin Brown said. “I may be biased, but I’d say that Boone is home to the greatest fans around. The depth of their support is experienced not only in the stands on game days, but throughout the community itself. As an athlete, this support is incredibly appreciated and makes you want to give back as much as possible. It is an honor to serve such an awesome community.”

Women’s cross country came in second with 1,422 hours while averaging 56.89 hours per student-athlete.

“Being an athlete at Appalachian State and having the support that we do from the community and people surrounding us means so much,” freshman cross country runner Kylee Frady said. “I believe that the close-knit community that we have in Boone makes for App State Athletics feeling like our own little family within our college town. I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have being an athlete at Appalachian, and I don’t think it’d be possible without those who support us.”

In third was baseball with 1,381 hours averaging 12.22 hours per student-athlete.

“I would say it truly feels like a family,” baseball senior Kaleb Bowman said. “Families support one another through the good and bad, and that is what is so great about the community of Boone. They support us no matter what happens, so it really means a lot to be able to give back to them.”

“Being a part of the Appalachian State family means so much to me,” junior wrestler Christian Beach said. “I have been given such an amazing opportunity that has made me a better student, athlete and person. It is such an honor to be able to give back to the Boone community after Appalachian has given so much to me. I consider Boone my home, and giving back to my community is just amazing!”

Lenoir-Rhyne Women's Lacrosse had its senior middie Rachel Elmore honored as a part of the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-South Region Second Team, as announced on Thursday afternoon.

Elmore, the senior from White Plains, Md., had a season for the books as she surpassed the century mark in goals scored in the 18-7 victory at Tusculum. The two-time SAC Offensive Player of the Week put in 53 goals this season, including a season-high seven scored against Catawba. Her three assists put her point total at 56 for the year. She managed 77 draw control wins this season, 231 in her career which is tops in program history.

The First Team All-South Atlantic Conference selection is the second Bear in the second consecutive year to be named to the IWLCA all-region team after Ines Flueck garnered the honor in 2018.

Appalachian State (31-24) fell in game one of the NISC Liberty Regional to Rutgers (29-24). The two sides were scoreless for five and a half innings until Rutgers scored two. The Mountaineers battled but were unable to rally for a win, falling 1-2.

App State moves to the elimination bracket of the Liberty Regional. App will face George Washington and fight to avoid elimination from the NISC.

Thursday's game marked the first postseason appearance for Appalachian in program history. The team has put together their second 30-win season in App State history alongside their first birth in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

Sydney Holland suffered the loss in the circle. She ended the day with two strikeouts and three walks and allowed seven hits and two runs. Holland pitched five scoreless innings until the Scarlet Knights managed two runs. Maddie Siemer pitched in relief for the remainder of the sixth inning.

Rutgers brought around the first run of the game in the sixth inning with a solo home run to left field.

The Mountaineers managed to get one out but the Scarlet Knights kept swinging. After a double and single to put runners on first and third, Rutgers managed another single to add to the lead late in the game.

Siemer pitched in relief from then on and sent the Mountineers to a rally inning in the top of the seventh.

With two outs in the seventh, Laura Sales get on base with a single up the middle. Following her lead, Baylee Morton doubled to left center scoring Sales and putting herself in scoring position.

But that would be it for the Mountaineers as they were unable to bring her home, falling 2-1.

The Mountaineers are back in action on Friday in the first game of the elimination bracket. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Appalachian State men's track & field athletes Elliott Graves and Tristian Shaver have qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Fla. from May 23 to May 25.

Both Graves and Shaver will be making their second consecutive appearance in the event.

Graves will represent the Mountaineers in the 400-meter hurdles. His time of 51.50 in the event, set at the Sun Belt Championships last weekend, ranks 24th in the region. Last season, Graves advanced to the Quarterfinals, where he finished 23rd. Graves has won three straight Sun Belt titles in the 400-meter hurdles and will compete in the First Round on May 23 at 5 p.m., with the Quarterfinals taking place on May 24 at 7:15 p.m.

Shaver enters the meet with the 23rd best height of 17-1.50 (5.22m) in the pole vault, set at the Pepsi Florida Relays earlier this season. His mark also ranks second in the pole vault in school history. At the Sun Belt Championships last weekend, Shaver placed fourth in the pole vault with a mark of 16-8.00 (5.08m). He will compete on May 23 at 4:30 p.m.

Forty-eight athletes qualify for the preliminary first round in the east and west regional. The top-12 finishers from each preliminary site qualify for the NCAA Championships in Austin, Tex. from June 5-8.

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