BOILING SPRINGS – Daniel Cooke went 2-for-4 with a home run and three stolen bases, pacing a school-record nine steals in 10 attempts for GWU in a 9-7 win over Appalachian State Tuesday afternoon.
The Bulldogs’ nine steals also broke the Atlantic Sun Conference’s record for a single game, which Stetson set with six steals against Centenary in 1989. Cooke tied the A-Sun’s single game record for steals with his three bags, a record also held by Georgia Southern’s Chris Abner (vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 1990).
The game was called after eight complete innings due to darkness, which came earlier than expected with the day’s cloudy, cold weather.
Gardner-Webb (1-3) picked up its first win of the season, and won its home opener for the fifth season in a row under Coach Rusty Stroupe. The game marked the season opener for Appalachian State (0-1).
The Diamond ‘Dogs fell behind early despite not allowing a hit in the top of the first. Appalachian’s Jason Altenhof led off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt – and scored on a sacrifice fly. GWU starter Jonathon Ban (1-1) worked out of the jam, however, fanning two batters to give GWU its first chance at the plate.
The ‘Dogs plated three runs in the bottom of the inning, getting a two-run single from Nate MacDonald and an RBI hit from Josh Drewery to take the lead for good off of Appalachian ace Jason Rook (0-1). GWU effectively put the game out of reach in the fourth, with three runs on three hits off of reliever Matt Andress. Jamaal Kinard led off with a sharp double to left and scored on Jay McConnell’s base hit to center moments later. Cooke then delivered his biggest blow of the game, belting an Andress’ fastball deep over the fence in left center for a 7-1 Gardner-Webb lead.
Ban was lifted after his predetermined 4.0 innings of work, and was sharp. The Marietta, Ga., sophomore fanned three and allowed just one hit in the outing.
Appalachian got a three-run triple from catcher Andrew Franco with two outs in the top of the fifth, but Gardner-Webb was able to keep its lead at three runs until the Mountaineers plated a pair of runs in the eighth to pull within the final margin.
Gardner-Webb collected 12 hits in the game, with McConnell (3-for-5, RBI), Cooke (2-for-4, HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI), MacDonald (2-for-4) and Matt Rizzuto (2-for-3, run) having multiple-hit games. Appalachian State collected 12 of its 13 hits off of the Bulldogs’ bullpen, with Matt Prosser going a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. David Rubenstein (2-for-4, RBI), Franco (2-for-5) and Rand Smith (2-for-4, run) also had two-hit days for the visitors.
In addition to Cooke’s prowess on the base paths, GWU got two steals apiece from Jonathan Ahearn and Kinard – with Ahearn (Charlotte, N.C. / Providence) pulling off a straight steal of home plate in the second inning. GWU had nine steals in nine attempts before designated hitter/pitcher Nate MacDonald was called out on an attempt in the sixth.
Gardner-Webb is now 15-of-17 in stolen base attempts through four games this season.
GWU will play at NC State on Friday, February 16, at 3 pm ET, beginning a three-game series with the ACC contenders from Raleigh, N.C.