JONESBORO, Ar - Arkansas State carried a 3-2 lead following seven innings of play but the South Alabama Jaguars rallied with four runs in the top of the eighth, then added four more in the ninth to defeat the Red Wolves 10-3 Saturday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
With the victory, South Alabama (11-4, 2-6 SBC) evened the Sun Belt Conference series between the two teams at 1-1, setting up Sunday's deciding game three.
Arkansas State (10-13, 5-6 SBC) starter Jett Jones had retired 11 consecutive batters with the Red Wolves leading 3-2 with one out in the eighth, but South Alabama catcher David Doss reached on a double, then scored on a double from first baseman Ryan Bohanan to tie the game at 3-3. A single from third baseman Jake Overstreet drove in Bohanan to give the Jaguars a 4-3 advantage that they would not relinquish.
"Jett was in the strike zone and really helped us out," said ASU Head Coach Tommy Raffo. "We played some defense behind him and were able to get deep in the game with him. In the eighth, they had 3-4-5 up and we got the three-hole hitter out, but the game changed within two hitters after that."
"One thing that we did not do a good job of today was getting any more runs after we went ahead 3-2," added Raffo. "If you are ahead 4-2, or 5-2, that run doesn't mean as much. Obviously, if we expand the lead, it doesn't come down to 3-2."
The Red Wolves got on the board in the first with an RBI single up the middle from designated hitter Murray Watts for a 1-0 lead.
South Alabama answered with two runs in the third, getting a two-run single from Overstreet to put the Jags on top 2-1, but ASU regained the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. First baseman Brandon Eller sent home a run when he reached on an error, and a sacrifice fly from right fielder Derrick Coleman gave the Red Wolves a 3-2 lead. Neither team scored again until South Alabama's four-run outburst in the eighth.
Jones (0-4) took the loss for ASU, giving up four runs on seven hits, with three strikeouts and a pair of walks in seven and one-thirds innings. Lance Baxter worked seven innings to get the win for South Alabama, surrendering three runs on seven hits. Baxter struck out three and walked three. Greg Johnson put in two innings of work for the Jags to earn his first save of the season.
Centerfielder Todd Baumgartner and shortstop Jordan Kimball both went 2-for-3 to lead Arkansas State's batting attack, while Overstreet was 3-for-5 with three RBI to lead South Alabama.