Jonesboro (ASU) - The Arkansas State baseball team (7-3) held a 4-2 lead after eight innings, but Portland (8-2) used a three-run rally in the top of the ninth to hand the Red Wolves a 5-4 setback Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
ASU defeated Portland 7-0 Friday, but the Pilots took game two 8-3 on Saturday and clinched the series with today's comeback win. The Red Wolves dropped their first series of the season after sweeping both Southern Illinois and UW-Milwaukee earlier this year.
ASU never trailed until the deciding ninth inning, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after two innings. Portland drove in two runs on a two-out double in the fourth to make the score 3-2, but ASU tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth to give the Red Wolves a two-run lead heading into the ninth.
Portland immediately went to work in the ninth, getting a single to right field to start things off. ASU responded by recording a strikeout, but hit the following batter to put runs at first and second with only one out. The Red Wolves then gave up an RBI single to Kris Kauppila that still left runners on first and second.
Portland used another single to load the bases, but ASU got Riley Henricks to line out to first base and Murray Watts nearly narrowly missed a double-play when he turned and dove for the bag. The Pilots then hit a grounder to shortstop, but ASU was unable to convert the throw and the tying score crossed the plate.
The Red Wolves were able to get Portland's next batter to pop up, but the Pilots scored the winning run on a wild pitch before ASU secured the out. Chris Dennis, who entered the game in the seventh inning and picked up the victory, was able to retire ASU in order in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win for the Pilots.
"Obviously, the outcome wasn't what we wanted," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "We were unable to expand the lead we built early and that's what hurt us. We have to do a better job understanding that when those opportunities present themselves, we have to score some runs. We would have liked to make some plays in the ninth inning, but in the big scheme of things the game wasn't won in the early or middle innings for us either."
The Red Wolves posted 12 hits to Portland's 10, and both teams left 10 runners stranded. ASU had two errors to Portland's one, but both teams put one run on the scoreboard that was the result of an error.
ASU's Todd Baumgartner, Taylor Clements and Jordan Kimball all had two hits each to lead ASU offensively. Michael Faulkner, Baumgartner, Giovanni Garcia and Kimball all finished with one RBI. Jacob Lee pitched 7.2 strong innings for ASU, giving up just seven hits and striking out five Portland batters before exiting the game.
"Jacob was outstanding," said Raffo. "He did what we wanted him to do, got a quality start and gave us an opportunity to win the game."
C.J. Cullen led Portland with two hits and a team-high two RBI. Kauppila also had two hits and an RBI for Portland, while Beau Fraser added two hits as well.
The Red Wolves play the fourth of five games over five consecutive days when it hosts IUPUI-Ft. Wayne on Monday at 3:00 p.m.