Red Wolves earn series victory over ULM with 11-Inning win

MONROE, La - Arkansas State senior Nick Lambert set a record, got out of a jam, got some help from the ASU offense and picked up a win as the Red Wolves (9-10, 4-4) clinched a victory in their Sun Belt Conference series with Louisiana-Monroe (10-10, 3-5) with a 6-4, 11-inning victory Saturday afternoon at Warhawk Field.  Arkansas State won Friday's series opener 14-4.

Lambert went to the mound in the 10th with the winning run at third and one out, and struck out the next two batters to end the ULM threat, then retired the side in the 11th to wrap up the victory after ASU catcher Kyle DeGrace delivered a two-run single up the middle in the top of the frame to put the Red Wolves on top.

Lambert set the record for the most career appearances by an ASU pitcher, taking the mound in his 86th contest to break the record of 85 set by Ryan Hamilton from 2001-2004.

"Our offense came in and scored two big runs for us, and I owed it to them to go in and shut those guys out in the 11th," said Lambert.  "In the 10th, (ASU Pitching) Coach (Justin) Meccage said to just go out there and get them, that we could win it right there.  He did some great pitch calling and I just happened to have my stuff and it felt good."

After Lambert got out of the jam in the 10th, Arkansas State used singles from right fielder Todd Baumgartner and designated hitter Murray Watts, and a walk from first baseman Brandon Eller to load the bases.  DeGrace battled back from an 0-2 count before driving in the go-ahead runs.

"What a great battle from Kyle," said ASU Head Coach Tommy Raffo.  "He was up there, he was ready, he had a plan and after he got the two strikes, he kept battling and battling until he got a pitch he could handle, and he put it up the middle."

"We want to put our young men in these situations as much as we can," added Raffo.  "That is the fun of competing in Division I baseball and we came through for the win."

The Red Wolves wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard, putting up two runs in the first inning.  Brown got aboard with a one-out double down the right field line, moved to third on a single from right Baumgartner, and scored on a wild pitch.  Following a balk on ULM starter Justin Anderson, Baumgartner scored from third on a single from Watts for the 2-0 Arkansas State lead.

The Warhawks countered with two runs in the second, scoring one run on a ground-out from catcher Ryan McMillan and the second on an RBI double from third baseman Nick Wade.

Arkansas State broke the 2-2 tie with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead.

The Red Wolves used an RBI ground-rule double from first baseman Brandon Eller to score in the fifth, then picked up the sixth-inning run when left fielder Josh DeMoney reached on an error, moved to second on a bunt single from center fielder Cody Pace and scored on a single up the middle from Brown.

The Warhawks threatened in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with one out, but ASU senior Chris Bullington went to the mound for the Red Wolves and struck out designated hitter Jordy Poche before getting Wade to fly out to right field to end the inning.

Louisiana-Monroe tied the game in the seventh, getting RBI singles from shortstop Ben Soignier and first baseman Matt Collins to pull even with the Red Wolves at 4-4 and eventually force the extra innings.

The game was the fourth extra-inning contest of the year for ASU, which is 3-1 in games longer than nine innings.  The previous three extra-inning games all ended in the 10th.

Lambert retired all five batters he faced, striking out three to improve to 3-0 on the year with the win.  Corey Brown (1-1) took the loss for ULM.

Pace was 3-for-4 and Brown was 3-for-5 with an RBI to lead ASU at the plate.  Collins was 3-for-5 with an RBI to pace the Warhawks.