Jonesboro (ASU) - First baseman Murray Watts broke a 2-2 tie with a fifth-inning grand slam, and the Arkansas State Red Wolves (24-20) went on to defeat the Skyhawks (20-24) of Tennessee-Martin 8-3 Tuesday night at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
UT-Martin cut the ASU lead to 6-3 with a run in the eighth, but the Red Wolves answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning, and the Arkansas State defense did its part to dash any thoughts of a Skyhawk rally when it turned double plays in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
Junior Brad Allen picked up the win on the mound for Arkansas State to improve to 5-1 on the season. Allen went to the mound with ASU trailing 2-1 in the third and pitched four scoreless innings, giving up just three hits along the way. Allen struck out two batters and walked one.
"I was very pleased with the effort tonight," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "I thought we were a little more up-tempo and that was something we talked about before the game. We had some big pitches, some big moments and we made some double plays to get out of jams. And obviously, we got the big hit from Murray. I thought that kind of let the air out of the dugout a little bit and really helped us relax and have fun playing the game."
"We made the pitches and dominated the routine play," added Raffo. "Those were routine double plays and they have to be executed at the D-1 level. It really gave us some spark in the dugout and it helped our pitchers and the mindset of our defense."
The Skyhawks took a 1-0 lead in the second when second baseman Cory Stooksbury singled to send home a run, but the Red Wolves tied the game in the bottom of the inning when catcher Tyler Smith delivered an RBI double down the right field line.
Skyhawk shortstop Cody Terry doubled to send home a run in the third, and the 2-1 UTM advantage held until ASU shortstop Jordan Kimball tied the game in the fifth with a sacrifice fly. Watts' two-out grand slam later in the inning gave the Red Wolves a 6-4 advantage.
Tennessee-Martin scored once in the top of the eighth, but Arkansas State right fielder Todd Baumgartner tripled to lead off the inning before scoring on a base hit from designated hitter Jordan Castaldo. Taylor Clements came on to pinch-run for Castaldo and scored the Red Wolves' final run when he came home from second when center fielder Michael Faulkner reached on a UTM error.
Baumgartner went 3-for-4, and Watts was 2-for-4 with four RBIs to lead ASU at the plate, while four players had two hits each to pace UTM. Senior Drew Flaniken (1-2) took the loss on the mound for UTM, giving up six runs on eight hits in five innings of work. Flaniken walked four and struck out one.
The Red Wolves will return to Sun Belt Conference action this weekend when they host the Golden Panthers of Florida International in a three-game series at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field. The series is scheduled to get underway Friday at 6:00 p.m.