Little Rock Sports
Tyler Morrison, Assistant Director of Communications
LITTLE ROCK – A sixth-inning pinch-hit grand slam by Jonathan Davis helped Little Rock baseball (10-16, 3-4 Sun Belt) beat Appalachian State (10-16, 1-6) by a score of 6-2 on Friday night at Gary Hogan Field.
Davis’ grand slam was the first by a Little Rock player since Bryson Thionnet in 2014, and it was the first pinch-hit home run by a Trojan since Niko Navarro in 2011. Davis finished the game 1 for 2.
Nik Gifford was a perfect 3 for 3 with a run and a walk, and Zach Baker went 2 for 5 with a run. Dalton Thomas was 1 for 3 with his eighth double of the season. Hunter Owens advanced his hitting streak to eight games with a hit and a run, and Bryce Dimitroff upped his reached-base streak to nine games with one hit, an RBI and a run.
Trojan reliever Dylan Slayton (2-0) earned the win in his conference-leading 17th appearance of the season. Slayton was phenomenal out of the bullpen as he allowed just one hit in 3.2 innings of work while recording one strikeout. Starter Cory Malcom (2-1) took the no-decision after striking out nine batters and allowing two runs on five hits and three walks in 5.1 innings on the bump. App State starter Travis Holden (1-4) took the loss as he threw six innings, struck out four and allowed four runs on six hits and three walks.
“I’m just so proud of these guys because they’ve been battling, and we’ve been going through a lot of tough games that haven’t gone our way,” head coach Chris Curry said. “These guys haven’t blinked, and they haven’t panicked. I thought Holden did an outstanding job of holding us down through five, and he really made it tough on us.”
The Trojans got off to a rocky start in the very first inning as the Mountaineers scored two runs on two hits. With one out and runners on first and second, a wild pitch allowed Calev Grubbs to score from second while Jason Curtis advanced to third. An RBI ground out by Tyler Stroup plated Curtis and gave App State a 2-0 lead.
After four scoreless innings, it was Little Rock’s time to shine. Gifford and Dimitroff earned a pair of two-out singles before Cale Ridling walked on a full count. Davis came on to pinch hit with bases loaded and delivered with his second home run of the season over the right field wall.
With a 4-2 lead entering the bottom of the seventh, the Trojans tacked on a couple of insurance runs. Baker welcomed new App State reliever Dallas DeVrieze to the game with a leadoff single through the left side before Owens singled through the right side. Still no outs, Thomas ripped an RBI double down the left field line to score Baker. After Gifford walked to put runners on the corners with one out, the Mountaineers brought on Sean Mason from the bullpen. Dimitroff hit into a ground out at short, but it brought home the Trojans’ sixth and final run of the game.
“App State has a good club over there, and they play hard,” Curry said. “I expect tomorrow to be a dog fight all day, but I’m just proud of these guys and how they’re continuing to stick with it even when it doesn’t go their way.”
Little Rock and App State will conclude the three-game series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m., at Gary Hogan Field.