Monroe, LA (KAIT) - Tommy Raffo said last Sunday that playing 4 out of 5 on the road "would be a tester for us."
The Red Wolves passed the test today, beating ULM 8-1 to win their 5th straight conference game. With South Alabama upsetting #24 Western Kentucky, ASU is tied for 1st place in the Sun Belt.
Jacob Lee threw eight innings before giving up a run and the Red Wolves' offense grew stronger as the day went on, giving ASU an 8-1 win over Louisiana-Monroe Sunday afternoon at Warhawk Field.
Lee (5-2) struck out seven batters against just six hits and one walk in his eight innings on the mound, while the Arkansas State batting attack put runs on the board in each of the final five innings to wrap up the three-game Sun Belt Conference sweep of the Warhawks (12-20, 3-9).
With the win, Arkansas State improves to 21-11 on the season and 11-4 in league play and sits in a first-place tie in the league standings with South Alabama at the midpoint in the conference season. Arkansas State has now posted a sweep in each of its last two SBC road series and has won eight consecutive league road games.
"It's a special weekend any time you get an opportunity to win three in a row, and we had that opportunity today," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "Jacob was very good for us on the mound, and we kept chipping away on the scoreboard. I am very proud of our effort. You can be satisfied with getting two wins on the road, but obviously our guys wanted more today."
Arkansas State took a 1-0 lead in the third when left fielder Logan Uxa singled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from second baseman Giovanni Garcia. It looked as if the Warhawks would answer with a run in the bottom of the inning, but right fielder Todd Baumgartner robbed ULM designated hitter Caleb Clowers of a home run when he leapt up to snare the ball over the wall and bring it back into the ballpark.
The Red Wolves used another sacrifice fly to score again, this time from center fielder Michael Faulkner, then added a run in the sixth to make it 3-0 when Baumgartner reached on an error and scored on a ground-out from designated hitter Ryan Emery.
Faulkner singled, stole second and scored on a two-out, bloop single into right field from Garcia in the seventh to add another run to the A-State total, and a two-run home run from Emery in the eighth stretched the Red Wolves' advantage to 6-0.
The Red Wolves used a two-out double from Baumgartner and first baseman Murray Watts' fourth single of the day to add a pair of insurance runs in the ninth, before ULM spoiled the shutout with a run in the final inning.
"ULM's pitcher was very good on the mound today, and with the way he was pitching, I felt we had to just chip away. We had to find a way to get the lead, and then add to the lead, and we did that. We had some great at-bats and some unselfish play that really showed up and paid off in the end."
Watts went 4-for-5 with an RBI and Uxa was 2-for-3 to lead the ASU batting attack, while shortstop Judd Edwards and second baseman Boomer Blanchard each had two hits for ULM.
Junior Jordy Poche (2-3) took the loss on the mound for the Warhawks, giving up four runs on eight hits in six and two-thirds innings of work. Poche walked one batter and struck out three.
Jacob Lee went 8 innings, giving up an earned run and six hits, striking out seven on the afternoon. Ryan Emery went 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs in the victory.
This upcoming week, the Red Wolves will be road warriors again. 3 out of 4 are on the road, with their only home game Wednesday at 6:00pm versus SEMO. ASU will then travel to Indiana to take on the Evansville Purple Aces from the Missouri Valley Conference. Gametimes are Friday at 6:00pm, Saturday at 4:00pm, and Sunday at 1:00pm.
It's the first ever meeting between Arkansas State and Evansville.