Game 2: Troy 9, ASU 3
Arkansas State opened the series with a 5-4 victory in the Friday opener, but with a berth on the line in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Troy bounced back to earn the final spot in the bracket with Saturday's two victories.
"We aren't scoring when we need to score, and obviously that makes it difficult," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "At the same time, we have time to work and get better, and get ourselves in gear for the tournament."
"Today was senior day for Troy and they had a lot of momentum," added Raffo. "They scored early and that kind of got them going, so credit them for a good day."
The Red Wolves took advantage of an early Troy error to take a 1-0 lead in the first. Arkansas State right fielder Todd Baumgartner's two-out single to right-center was mishandled by Trojan center fielder Chad Watson, allowing Baumgartner to advance to third. First baseman Murray Watts' single to right field drove in Baumgartner to put A-State on top, before Troy countered with a pair of runs in the second to take a 2-1 lead.
Shortstop R.J. Myers reached on a fielder's choice to score Troy's first run of the second inning and second baseman T.J. Rivera singled later in the frame to give the Trojans the lead, but the Red Wolves tied the game at 2-2 in the third on an RBI single from designated hitter Jordan Castaldo.
Arkansas State took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Baumgartner bounced a run-scoring double over the left-center wall, but Troy shortstop Adam Bryant erased the ASU advantage with a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning. Right fielder Steven Felix scored from third on a dropped third strike later in the inning to give the Trojans a 6-3 advantage, before the Red Wolves were able to get out of the inning.
First baseman Ryan Ditthardt sent a solo home run over the left field wall in the eighth to extend the Troy lead to 7-3, and the Trojans added two more runs later in the inning to set the final at 9-3.
Senior Ross Humes (5-4) took the loss on the mound for Arkansas State, giving up six runs on six hits, with four strikeouts and no walks. Drew Hull (4-5) earned the win for Troy. In six innings of work, Hull gave up 11 hits, but the Red Wolves could only manage three runs off of the junior starter. Hull struck out four and walked one.
Baumgartner went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored to lead the Red Wolves offensively, while Ditthardt was 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead Troy.
Game One - Troy 11, ASU 6
Troy took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single from Ditthardt, then used a run-scoring single from Felix and an ASU throwing error to add a pair of runs in the second to put the Red Wolves in a 3-0 hole.
Trojan catcher Jake Sullivan drove in a run with a single to right field to start a four-run third inning for Troy that ended the day for Arkansas State starter Jacob Lee, but the Red Wolves cut the Troy lead to 7-2 in the sixth on a two-run double from Castaldo. Arkansas State then rallied to within a run with four runs in the top of the seventh.
After back-to-back singles from catcher Tyler Smith and third baseman Zach Maggio, along with a Troy error, center fielder Michael Faulkner singled to drive in the first run of the seventh inning for the Red Wolves. A bases-clearing double from second baseman Giovanni Garcia sent home the remaining three seventh-inning runs to cut the Trojan lead to 7-6.
The Trojans answered in the bottom of the inning with a grand slam from Felix to push the Troy lead back to five at 11-6.
Lee (6-3) took the loss on the mound for Arkansas State, giving up seven runs on seven hits in 2 and two-thirds innings of work. Lee struck out two batters and walked two. Tyler Ray (7-3) picked up the win for Troy, going six innings and allowing six runs on seven hits, with five strikeouts and a walk.
Garcia was 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead ASU at the plate, while Felix led Troy with a 3-for-4, five RBI effort.
The Red Wolves will now return to Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field to wrap up the regular season, hosting in-state and SBC rival UALR in a three-game league series that gets underway Thursday, May 20. Following UALR series, Arkansas State will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which gets underway May 26 at Middle Tennessee State University.