Late ULM home run prevents ASU series sweep

MONROE, La - The Arkansas State Red Wolves (9-11, 4-5) rallied from a 7-1 deficit after four frames to force extra innings, but a two-out walk-off home run in the 10th from UL-Monroe first baseman Matt Collins gave the Warhawks (11-10, 4-5) a 10-8 victory over ASU Sunday afternoon at Warhawk Field.  With the win, ULM avoided the Sun Belt Conference series sweep after ASU won the Friday and Saturday games to take the series win.

The Red Wolves committed two errors and gave up 10 hits through the first three innings of play to fall into the six-run hole.

"We couldn't get the game under control early and that hurt us," said ASU Head Coach Tommy Raffo.  "Finally we got it under control in the fourth, all the way through until the eighth, but we had to play catch-up too much.  But I'm proud of the way we battled through and had some opportunities to win.  When we were down 7-1 we could have easily hung our heads and been satisfied with the series win, but they didn't.  They kept fighting."

The Warhawks took the lead in the bottom of the first, getting RBI hits from shortstop Ben Soignier and designated hitter Matt Laird to give ULM a 2-0 advantage, but the Red Wolves countered with a run in the second to cut the early Warhawk lead in half.  Right fielder Derrick Coleman singled and scored when shortstop Jordan Kimball reached on a fielder's choice to cut the ULM lead to 2-1.

Laird drove in two more runs in the second and the Warhawks also got an RBI single from left fielder Jon Prevost in the frame to extend the ULM lead to 5-1, and an ASU error along with another Prevost RBI in the third gave the Warhawks a 7-1 advantage.

Arkansas State got back within striking distance with three runs in the third.  Third baseman Guy Brown drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a single from center fielder Todd Baumgartner, and scored on a double from designated hitter Murray Watts.  Baumgartner and Watts both scored when catcher Lawson Hipps tripled to center field to cut the ULM lead to 7-4.

The Red Wolves edged one run closer in the seventh when Brown drew his second consecutive walk and came home on a base hit from first baseman Brandon Eller, and a two-run home run from left fielder Josh DeMoney in the eighth knotted the score at 7-7.  DeMoney was 0-for-13 in the weekend series before coming through with the clutch home run to tie the game.

UL-Monroe took advantage of an ASU error in the bottom half of the eighth to score an unearned run and go back on top 8-7, but the Warhawks returned the favor in the bottom of the inning when Eller reached on an error to lead off the inning.  With freshman Jacob Lee in to pinch-run for Eller, pinch-hitter Cody Pace plated Lee with a ground-out to tie the game at 8-8, but Collins' home run in the eighth prevented the ASU series sweep.

Senior Nick Lambert (3-1) took the loss on the mound for ASU, giving up two runs on one hit with three strikeouts and a walk in one and one-third innings of work.  Blake Jones picked up the win for ULM, giving up no runs and no hits in two innings on the mound.  Jones walked two with no strikeouts.

Baumgartner went 2-for-4 to lead ASU at the plate while Laird was 3-for-5 to lead ULM.

Arkansas State will return to action Tuesday when the Red Wolves host Southeast Missouri State in a 6:30 p.m. game at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.