Watts powers Arkansas State to extra inning win

JONESBORO, AR - Arkansas State sophomore designated hitter Murray Watts delivered a two-out solo home run to force a 7-7 tie in the ninth, and sophomore center fielder Todd Baumgartner came through with a two-out RBI single in the 10th to give the Red Wolves an 8-7 win over Memphis (12-19) Wednesday night at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.

Arkansas State (13-18) trailed 7-5 following three innings of play, but solid defense and a strong effort from the ASU bullpen helped the Red Wolves blank the Tigers over the final seven innings.

Arkansas State relievers Chris Bullington, Andy Ferguson and Nick Lambert combined to allow just one run over the final seven and two-thirds innings, holding the Tigers to eight hits and four walks while striking out four Memphis batters.

ASU catcher Kyle DeGrace threw out four Tiger baserunners on the night and second baseman Giovanni Garcia gunned down Memphis pinch-hitter Robby Graham at the plate from shallow right field in the 10th to prevent what would have been the go-ahead run for the Tigers.

The win came one night after the Red Wolves gave up 17 hits and committed nine errors in a 16-8 loss to the Tigers in Memphis.

"Today was a lot of guts, sticking it out and being stubborn," said ASU coach Tommy Raffo. "We had some clutch AB's at the end and came out on top. I was proud of the way we fought tonight.  We were down all night and that shows a little character and I like that. Hopefully we can carry that over to the weekend."

After both teams plated a pair of runs in the first inning, Arkansas State took a 4-2 lead in the second when third baseman Guy Brown hit a two-out, two-run single up the middle, but Memphis answered with five runs in the third to take a 7-4 lead.

Arkansas State scored once in the bottom of the third on an RBI double down the left field line from Garcia to cut the Tiger lead to 7-5, then scored once in each of the final three innings to get the win.

Right fielder Derrick Coleman walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch to pull the Red Wolves within a run at 7-6 in the eighth before Watts and Baumgartner belted out the tying and winning hits in the ninth and tenth.

Baumgartner and Garcia each had two hits to lead ASU at the plate while first baseman Cole Shelton went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead Memphis.

Lambert picked up the win on the mound to improve to 4-1 on the season. He did not allow a baserunner in the final two innings, while striking out two Tiger batters. Jonathan Jones (1-1) took the loss for Memphis, giving up three runs on three hits in two and one-thirds innings. Jones walked two batters and struck out two.

Arkansas State returns to action Friday when the Red Wolves take a break from Sun Belt Conference play to host Chicago State in a three-game weekend series. Friday's first pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

Source: ASU Sports Information