Jonesboro (ASU) - The Arkansas State Red Wolves (23-16, 12-5) rallied from three runs down in the bottom of the eighth to defeat South Alabama 9-8 in 10 innings, but the Jaguars (26-16, 13-6) regrouped to claim a 9-4 victory in the second game of a double-header at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field, leaving the two teams deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in the Sun Belt Conference series between the league's top two teams.
In game one, Arkansas State trailed 8-5 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but cut a run off of the Jaguars' lead when shortstop Jordan Kimball drove in a run when he reached on a fielder's choice, then tied the game on a two-out, two run single up the middle from pinch-hitter Josh DeMoney. The Red Wolves used a single from Kimball and two walks to load the bases in the 10th, and first baseman Murray Watts drew the full-count, bases-loaded walk to give A-State the 9-8 win.
"We felt like pinch-hitting Josh against their guy was a percentage play for us," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "Josh hit the ball into the middle of the field and it worked out for us. Murray's at-bat was a tough one for him. He swung at a 3-1 pitch that may have been up a little bit because he wants to hit so badly, but it worked itself out and he had a great at-bat to get us the win."
Senior Ross Humes picked up the win for ASU, working the final two innings and retiring all six batters he faced. Humes improved to 5-2 on the season in making his first appearance out of the bullpen. Watts went 4-for-5 with three RBIs to lead the Red Wolves at the plate.
In game two, South Alabama overcame a 3-2 Arkansas State lead when third baseman Jake Overstreet delivered a two-run home run to put the Jaguars on top to stay. The Jags made it 6-3 with a pair of runs in the eighth before the Red Wolves plated a run in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Logan Uxa, but South Alabama scored three times in the ninth to pull away and set the final score at 9-4.
Garrett Harris (5-3) worked eight and one-thirds innings, throwing 147 pitches to pick up the win for South Alabama. Harris struck out a career-high eight batters, while allowing four runs on 12 hits. Junior Andres Caceres (1-2) took the loss for ASU, giving up six runs on 11 hits in eight innings of work. Caceres struck out four and did not issue a walk.
Center fielder Taylor White was 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead USA, while third baseman Jordan Castaldo and catcher Kyle DeGrace each went 3-for-4 to lead Arkansas State.
At 11-4 in Sun Belt Conference play, Arkansas State went into the weekend series atop the league standings with a winning percentage of .733, while the Jaguars were in second place at .722 (13-5). Following Saturday's double-header, Arkansas State remains in the lead with a winning percentage of .705, with the Jaguars close behind at .700. The two teams will decide the series Sunday at 1:00 p.m., with the winner in first place heading into next week's action.
"When you've got the top two teams playing at your place, it's a very big game," said Raffo. "I think our guys realize it and South Alabama does too. They are very well coached and a very good ballclub. We are looking forward to game three tomorrow.