Kole Myers walks-off Appalachian State to open Sun Belt Tournament
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It was a wild back-and-forth affair between the Trojans and Mountaineers Wednesday morning from Riverwalk Stadium as Troy prevailed in their opener of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament thanks to a Kole Myers walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning for a 10-9 victory.
The Trojans (39-18) battled back on two separate occasions, first overcoming a five-run deficit to score seven straight and take the lead into the ninth, then down two runs in the bottom of the ninth to set up the victorious ending.
Down to their final out and down two runs, Troy shortstop Tremayne Cobb Jr. tied the game up on one swing of the bat as he sent a ball 393 feet to the train tracks to tie the game at 9-9 and send it into extra innings.
After being unable to close out the ninth, Noah Manning (3-2) didn’t let that phase him as he took the mound in the top of the 10th and got three outs to set up the Trojans, who used a hit-by-pitch and a walk to bring up Myers who ended the game.
With the Trojans leading 7-5 in the ninth, Appalachian State (27-24) scored four times to take the lead after a fielding error started the frame.
At the plate for the Trojans, Caleb Bartolero had his first four-hit game of the season, and only third of his career, finishing with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored. Freshman Brooks Bryan had his first three RBI day of his career after his fourth home run of the season. Myers’s double was his second hit of the day, and Cobb Jr. and Donovan Whibbs each scored twice.
With three home runs on the day, the 2023 Trojans have become the fourth team in program history to surpass 100 home runs, as they now have 102 on the season.
Trojan starter Grayson Stewart went five innings for the 13th time this season, but the All-Sun Belt first-team starting pitcher for the Trojans was tagged for five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
Following Stewart, Matt Mercer came on and pitched a scoreless sixth inning, with Zach Fruit following and going two innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Appalachian State had its own All-Sun Belt First team member on the mound in Xander Hamilton. Hamilton was cruising throughout the first four innings, only allowing two hits, but the Trojans got to him in the fifth for four runs on two hits. Hamilton struck out five, walked three, and was done after 4.1 innings of work.
For the Mountaineers, CJ Boyd, Luke Drumheller, Alex Reed, and Jonathan Xuereb all had two RBIs on the day. Earning his first loss of the season is Jackson Steensma (3-1), who allowed three runs on two hits in one inning.
The first two batters for Appalachian State were retired on five pitches; Drumheller sent the sixth pitch of the game out of the ballpark to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead in the first.
The second run of the game didn’t come until the top of the fifth as, once again, Appalachian State used a solo home run from Reed to double the lead. A one-out single put a man on that the Mountaineers brought home via another home run from Boyd to make it 4-0. The fourth run of the inning came on the sixth hit of the frame to give Appalachian State a 5-0 advantage.
The Trojans had a big inning of their own in the bottom half of the fifth, quickly making it a brand-new game after tying it at 5-5. Two leadoff walks got things going which brought up Bryan. In a hitters count at 2-0, Bryan greeted a Hamilton fastball and sent 365 feet to right field to get the Trojans on the board and within two.
A Myers triple kept the Trojan momentum going, and a pitch hit Ethan Kavanagh to put the runners at the corners. Then, with the defense shifted to the left side, the senior Bartolero singled through the right side to make it a one-run game. Then, with runners at the corners again, William Sullivan lifted a ball to center field deep enough to bring in the fifth run and tie the game.
The Trojans will go on to play the winner of the Southern Miss and James Madison on Thursday, May 25, at 4 p.m. Trojan fans will once again have the opportunity to come together for a pregame social in the Club Car Bar beginning at 3:30 p.m.
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