Evansville, IN (ASU) - The Evansville Purple Aces (19-16) wiped out an early one-run Arkansas State (22-13) lead with four runs in the second and went on to defeat the Red Wolves 7-4 Saturday afternoon at Braun Stadium. With the win, Evansville clinched a victory in the three-game non-conference weekend series after opening with a 5-4 victory Friday night.
"They had a big inning in the second and that came back to haunt us," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "They took advantage of some pitches that were up in the zone and basically stayed on top of us the rest of the game."
Arkansas State jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when center fielder Michael Faulkner singled to lead off the game and eventually came home on a wild pitch, but the Purple Aces countered with four in the second to go on top. A two-run double from left fielder Alex Acheson put Evansville on the board, followed by a two-run double from center fielder Greg Wallace that gave the Aces a 4-1 advantage.
Evansville used a sacrifice fly from first baseman Tom Heithoff to extend its lead to 5-1 in the third, before the Red Wolves trimmed a run off of the UE lead when right fielder Cody Pace singled in a run to make it 5-2 in the fourth.
Wallace singled in a run in the sixth to stretch the Aces' lead back to four at 6-2, but Arkansas State answered with two in the seventh. Faulkner drove in a run with a triple to right field, then scored on a sacrifice from first baseman Murray Watts to cut the Purple Ace lead to 6-4. Acheson robbed ASU designated hitter Ryan Emery of at least one RBI later in the inning when he made a diving catch in left field then drove in a run in the bottom half of the seventh to give Evansville a 7-4 cushion.
Arkansas State managed to get the tying run to the plate in the ninth when Faulkner reached on a fielder's choice and third baseman Jordan Castaldo walked, but Heithoff struck out Watts to record the final out and earn his eighth save of the season.
"We had an opportunity in the seventh and later in the ninth, but it just didn't work out in our favor," said Raffo. "We were playing catch-up, and on the road that is hard to do. It's a team effort and we need to get back to playing ASU baseball. I don't think we have done that these last two days."
Sam Johns (4-2) earned the win for Evansville, giving up four runs on 10 hits while striking out nine in six innings of work. Senior Ross Humes (4-2) suffered the loss for the Red Wolves, surrendering five runs on eight hits in four innings on the mound. Humes walked one and struck out one.
Faulkner, Pace, Josh DeMoney and Jordan Kimball all had two hits to lead the ASU offense, while Wallace and Acheson each had three hits and three RBIs lead the way for Evansville.
With the series victory, Evansville snapped a string of three consecutive series wins by the Red Wolves, who will return to Sun Belt Conference action next weekend when they host the league-leading South Alabama Jaguars. Arkansas State is alone in second place in the SBC standings at 11-4, while South Alabama stands at 13-4 after winning the first two games of its weekend series against Louisiana-Monroe.
The two teams will wrap up the series Sunday at 1:00 p.m.