East Tennessee State was one pitch away from victory but couldn’t close the deal.

Phillip Cole’s two-run, two-out single in the ninth inning gave Appalachian State a 5-4 victory in a non-conference baseball game Tuesday at Thomas Stadium.

ETSU (2-2) was leading 4-3 in the ninth thanks to home runs from Jake Lyle, Kyle Richardson and Drew Haynie.

Matthew Mercer, a preseason All-Southern Conference reliever, allowed three hits in the ninth to load the bases. With a 2-2 count, Mercer was a strike away from ending the game when Cole’s two-run single gave the Mountaineers a 5-4 advantage.

John Louis Bland’s pinch-hit single and Ben Jack- son’s walk with one out gave the Bucs two base runners and some hope in the bottom of the ninth, but that’s as far as they got.

Mercer worked 12/3 innings and gave up six hits while facing 10 batters. He was charged with two runs. It was Mercer’s second appearance of the season. He worked a perfect inning in his first.

Appalachian State had scored single runs in the seventh and eighth to get into position to catch the Bucs.

Noah Hall worked the final two innings for the Mountaineers to earn the win.

The Bucs finished with five hits, three of them home runs. Lyle and Haynie both homered in the fifth inning. Lyle’s was a two-run shot.

Richardson’s solo blast came in the fourth and it tied the game after Appalachian State’s Kendall McGowan had opened the scoring with a solo home run of his own in the first inning.

The Bucs return to action with a three-game home series against UNC-Asheville on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Western Carolina had four players in double figures and beat ETSU 62-48 in a battle of the two teams stuck at the bottom of the Southern Conference’s women’s basketball standings.

The result left the Bucs 1-8 in the SoCon and still looking up at Western Carolina, which improved to 3-9. ETSU is 3-13 overall. Western Carolina improved to 6-16.

Zanoria Cruz led the Catamounts with 16 points. She made all seven of her shots. Tembre Moates and Lauren LaPlant had 14 apiece and Kyla Allison had 12 points and eight assists.

Jakhyia Davis led the Bucs with 10 points.

Western Carolina had a 30-25 halftime lead and began to methodically pull away. The Catamounts’ biggest lead was 60-42.

The game started a busy finish to the regular season. ETSU is scheduled to play three games over the final five days of the season.

Chattanooga is at Brooks Gym on Thursday night and Mercer comes to town Saturday.