New Orleans, LA (ASU) - Junior first baseman Murray Watts went 4-for-5 with seven RBIs to lead the Arkansas State Red Wolves to a 17-3, seven-inning Sun Belt Conference victory over the New Orleans Privateers Sunday afternoon at Maestri Field.
With the win, Arkansas State earned its first-ever series sweep over UNO and its first overall sweep of an opponent since taking three games at Louisiana-Lafayette to open Sun Belt Conference play during the 2008 season. The Red Wolves defeated the Privateers 14-7 in Friday's opener, before clinching the series victory with a 7-6 win Saturday afternoon.
Watts drove in at least one run in each of his five trips to the plate, and his seven-RBI afternoon was the second-most in ASU history. The Red Wolves' 17 runs matched their season-high run total set March 9 at Murray State, and ASU's 38 runs over the weekend were its most in a three-game series since a 42-run series against Western Kentucky during the 2006 season.
"We came out and took care of business today and I am really proud of that," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "We knew that after two wins on the road, we had an opportunity to have a special weekend, and I am very proud of how we approached this third game. We could have easily been satisfied with the series win and to move on, but the guys wanted more and I like that about this club."
The Privateers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when second baseman Nick Schwaner launched a two-run home run in the first, but the Red Wolves matched the effort in the second to tie the game at 2-2.
Watts' solo home run put the first run on the scoreboard for Arkansas State, and a two-out RBI single from shortstop Jordan Kimball gave ASU its second run of the inning.
"It was a great day at the plate, not only for me, but for the entire team," said Watts. "We came out on a mission and I think you can tell that by the final score. They scored two on us in the first and kind of punched us. We went back to the dugout and knew that if they were going to punch all day, we had to just punch harder and more often. I got up and just tried to get on base, and ended up hitting it out of the park."
After an unearned run from UNO in the second, the Red Wolves came home twice more in the third to take a 4-3 lead, scoring first on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Todd Baumgartner, before Watts drove in another run with a single to right field.
A six-run fourth inning stretched the ASU lead to 10-3. Run-scoring hits from Kimball and second baseman Giovanni Garcia gave the Red Wolves a 6-2 advantage, a sacrifice fly from third baseman Jordan Castaldo drove in the third run of the frame and Watts capped the inning with a three-run home run over the right field wall.
The Red Wolves put up another six runs in the fourth to put the run-rule in effect with a 16-3 advantage. Kimball, Garcia and Watts drove in one run each, a double off of the left field wall from Baumgartner plated two more and Castaldo scored from third on a wild pitch.
Watts drove in his seventh run of the game in the seventh to stretch the Red Wolves' lead to 17-3, and UNO was unable to score in the bottom of the inning to keep the game alive.
Sophomore Jacob Lee (3-2) went the distance on the mound for the Red Wolves to get the win and did not give up an earned run after Schwaner's home run in the first inning. Lee struck out six Privateers on the day, walked one and surrendered just five hits.
Sophomore starter Ricky Ott (1-1) took the loss for UNO, giving up nine runs on 10 hits in three and two-thirds innings. Ott walked two batters and registered a pair of strikeouts.
In addition to the big day from Watts, the Red Wolves also got a 3-for-3, 3-RBI performance from Kimball. Garcia, Baumgartner, center fielder Michael Faulkner and left fielder Cody Pace all added two hits for ASU.
Schwaner went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to lead UNO.
Tommy Raffo and the Red Wolves come back home to host Memphis Tuesday night at 6:30pm, then face #22 Western Kentucky in a weekend series at Tomlinson Stadium. Game times are Friday at 6pm, Saturday at 4pm, and Sunday at 1pm.