AUBURN, Ala. (ASU) – The Arkansas State baseball team (0-2) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie UAB (1-1) in the seventh inning, but the Blazers used a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to defeat the Red Wolves 5-3 Saturday night at Plainsman Park in competition at the Auburn Invitational.
UAB put one run on the board in the first, third and seventh innings, but ASU scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the seventh to force a short-lived 3-3 tie. UAB's Patrick Palmeiro led off the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, setting up a two-run shot over the center-field fence by Ryan Ussery that proved to be the winning hit.
"I like the way we stayed in the game and were competitive after we were down, but we have to improve our play in the field," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "We gave up too much free stuff tonight that came back to hurt us in the end. It was great that we were able to come back late, but at the same time we have work to do, and we've got to get a little bit better as a club."
A-State matched UAB's hit total with nine, but was hurt by an error in the third inning that resulted in a UAB run. Although A-State didn't allow a hit in the first inning, Nick Crawford was hit by a pitch to start the game and eventually stole home for the Blazers' first run as well.
Preseason Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Jacob Lee allowed just one earned run in six innings of work while striking out five, but was pinned with the loss. A-State still had runners on first and third with two outs following its three-run outburst in the seventh, but Ryan Nance entered in relief for the Blazers to stop the rally and secure the game's final seven outs to pick up the victory.
ASU was led by seven players with a hit, including Tyler Smith and Anthony Hect with two each. Smith also caught two men stealing and was responsible for one of the Red Wolves' three RBI, while Michael Faulkner and Logan Uxa recorded the other two.
ASU will complete play at the Auburn Invitational tomorrow with an 11:00 a.m. game against No. 13 Virginia (2-0), which defeated UAB 6-4 Friday night before knocking off No. 23 Auburn 13-2 Saturday afternoon.