ASU Baseball hosts Ole Miss

From Arkansas State University

ASU baseball completes its home and home series with Ole Miss when they host the Rebels Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field. This also marks the final nonconference and midweek contest for the Red Wolves.

THE OPPONENT: Ole Miss enters the contest against the Red Wolves with a 24-20 record and a 9-12 record in SEC play. As a team, the Rebels are batting .279 and own a squad ERA of 4.18.

Sophomore outfielder Tanner Mathis leads the team with a .343 batting average, 61 hits and ranks third on the team with 26 RBI and along with sophomore infielder Alex Yarbrough are the only two players to start in all 44 games this season. Yarbrough ranks second on the team with a .333 average, 57 hits, and 29 RBI, while leading the team with 36 runs scored.

ASU will face senior LHP Matt Tracey who ranks second on the team with a 4.43 ERA among regular starters and owns a 3-3 record in 10 appearances. He ranks second on the team with 50 strikeouts while allowing a team-low 21 earned runs and 46 hits.

THE SERIES: This will be the 84rd meeting between Arkansas State and Ole Miss with the Rebels holding a 63-20 advantage over the Red Wolves. Ole Miss won the meeting last season in Jonesboro 5-2 in 10 innings on May 12, 2010. Ole Miss narrowly escaped their last contest in Oxford, 4-3 earlier this season.

FERGUSON NAMED SBC PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Arkansas State senior right-hander Andy Ferguson has been named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week announced the league office on Monday.

Ferguson turned in the most dominant performance of his career when the struck out a league-high 14 batters against Middle Tennessee on Friday. It was the first time this season for Ferguson to pitch all nine innings for the Red Wolves as he improved his overall record to 5-2 taking the complete game win.

As the usual Friday night starter, Ferguson is holding opposing batters to a team-low .220 batting average against usual starters. Ferguson owns a 3.57 ERA and 56 strikeouts on the season in 10 appearances on the hill.

LAST CONTEST VERSUS OLE MISS: The Arkansas State baseball team (1-4) battled Ole Miss (5-0) to a 3-3 tie through eight innings, but Rebels' clean-up hitter Matt Snyder brought home the game-winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth to hand the Red Wolves a 4-3 setback at Oxford-University Stadium.

A-State found itself behind 3-1 after four innings, which included a rain delay in the bottom of the second that lasted just over one hour. However, the Red Wolves scored two runs in the top of the fifth to force a tie that would hold up until the last inning behind the strength of relief pitcher Sam Jew's arm. Jew got the last out in the fourth inning and held the Rebels scoreless over the next four. Jew's night ended with two outs in the eighth, finishing with a career-high seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work.

Ole Miss was able to take advantage of a lead-off walk from Tanner Mathis to start its final at-bat, moving him to second base on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a fielders choice before Snyder delivered the deciding hit.

ASU finished the game with eight hits, while Ole Miss posted 10. A-State was led offensively by six players with a hit, including Michael George and Dustin Jones with a team-high two each. George also recorded the Red Wolves' only RBI.

Matt Smith put Ole Miss on the board first, homering to right-center field in the first inning. The Red Wolves tied the game in the top of the second with back-to-back hits by Ryan Emery and George, who doubled to drive home Emery from first base. The Rebels answered right back with a run in the bottom half of the inning and later increased their advantage to 3-1 with a run in the fourth.

Ole Miss recorded six hits over the first four innings to build its two-run lead, but Jew entered the game in relief to secure the final out and allowed just three hits over the next four innings.

While Jew was in control on the mound, the ASU offense produced a couple of hits and took advantage of an Ole Miss throwing error in the fifth inning to score two runs and tie the game at 3-3. Jones and Michael Faulkner led off with back-to-back singles, and Zach Maggio followed with a sacrifice bunt back to Ole Miss starting pitcher Bobby Wahl that he threw past the third baseman, allowing both Jones and Faulkner to score.

A-State recorded two hits in the sixth inning, but left two men on base as it was unable to produce a run. The Red Wolves were retired in order in the seventh and eighth, but Ole Miss couldn't mount much offense either as Jew continued his strong effort on the mound through the bottom of the eighth.

MTSU SWEEP: ASU swept its first series of the season picking up wins over MTSU 6-5, 7-6 and 11-4 this past weekend at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field. The win pushed ASU up to sixth in the Sun Belt Conference Rankings.

BAUMGARTNER SETS RECORDS: ASU senior outfielder Todd Baumgartner leads ASU and the Sun Belt Conference with 69 hits which moved Baumgartner into the top spot on the all-time career hitting list with 255 career hits. Baumgartner also has set school career marks in doubles (50) and total bases (371). As a team, ASU is batting .267 and has a team ERA of 4.27.

ANOTHER SERIES WIN: ASU picked up its second SBC series win of the campaign when it took two out of three from the visiting Owls of FAU. The wins put ASU back into contention for the Sun Belt Conference tournament, tied for seventh in the league with MTSU.

CASTALDO LAST WEEK: Castaldo's bat came alive during last week when the senior first baseman went 7-16 with three home runs and six RBI in four starts. Castaldo's three home runs lifted his season total to five on the year with 27 RBI. Castaldo's strongest performance of the week came at SEMO when he went 3-4 with five RBI and two home runs with two runs scored.

MEMPHIS SWEEP: ASU swept its midweek series against Memphis by scores of 9-8 at FedEx Field and 5-4 in Jonesboro. In the series, Smith, Uxa, Faulkner and Emery each recorded three hits while Faulkner led the squad with three RBI.

SBC SERIES WIN: ASU picked up two wins over Louisiana-Monroe this past weekend to pick up its first Sun Belt Conference series win of the season with wins of 13-2 on Friday and 13-3 on Sunday. The wins improved the Red Wolves

HOME RUN OUTPUT: Against ULM the Red Wolves hit six home runs over the weekend with Baumgartner and Uxa each hitting two and Castaldo and Smith each adding one. The six home runs was the same total that the Red Wolves had hit on the season entering the weekend. So, in one weekend, ASU doubled its output for home runs on the campaign.

HITTING THEIR STRIDE: During their seven game losing streak, the Red Wolves posted 19 runs scored over that period. During their three-game set at ULM ASU posted 33 runs scored. The Red Wolves also had its most productive hitting weekend of the series as they posted 43 hits during its weekend against the Warhawks. Their next most-productive weekend was when they put up 42 hits against Louisiana-Lafayette.

FAULKNER NAMED POW: Arkansas State sophomore Michael Falkner was named the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Player of the Week for the competition week of March 20-27 announced the league office Monday.

Faulkner went 11-17 from the plate to lead ASU with a .647 batting average and a.882 slugging percentage. He also scored six runs and drove in seven RBI while going 3-3 on stolen base attempts as he helped ASU to a 2-2 record on the week.

Faulkner was perfect at the plate in the first half of ASU's twin bill against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday going 4-4 from the plate with three RBI and three runs scored. The week also saw Faulkner's return to the ASU defense after a shoulder injury kept him in a strictly offensive role for the Red Wolves for the past few weeks.

ASU continues action on Tuesday when they travel to Edwardsville, Ill. for a two-game midweek series against SIU Edwardsville. First pitch on Tuesday against the Cougars is set for 6 p.m.

BAUMGARTNER STREAK: Senior outfielder Todd Baumgartner team-high 14-game hitting streak was snapped at SIU-Edwardsville this past week in front of his home town crowd. Baumgartner's streak was the third longest on the team this season.

FAULKNER'S TRIPLE DOUBLES: Sophomore outfielder/DH Michael Faulkner picked up his first three doubles of the season legging out a trio of extra-base hits against Lyon College in midweek action. During that game Faulkner also recorded two RBI and two runs scored while also stealing a base.

BAUMGARTNER INSIDE THE PARK: Senior outfielder Todd Baumgartner recorded a rare feat legging out an inside the park home run against Lyon College. It was Baumgartner's second home run of the season. During that contest Baumgartner went 2-4 from the plate with four RBI and two runs scored.

CASTALDO STREAK: Senior first baseman Jordan Castaldo's hitting streak came to an end against Austin Peay but not before he extended it to 24-games which puts him alone in second-place on the all-time leader board behind Kevin Tate who had the longest hitting streak in school history with a 28-game streak in 1991.

BAUMGARTNER GOES 5-5: Senior outfielder Todd Baumgartner went 5-5 against Austin Peay in Friday night's action including picking up two doubles, four runs scored and an RBI.

SEASON SWEEP: With its 5-1 win over Murray State a couple of weeks ago, the Red Wolves completed a season-sweep of the Thoroughbreds. Earlier this season ASU picked up an 8-4 win at Tomlinson Stadium over Murray earlier this season.

LEE PRESEASON SBC PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Arkansas State junior starting pitcher Jacob Lee was named the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year announced the league last week. Lee also earned a Preseason All-Conference nod.

Lee is the top returning pitcher for the Red Wolves from last season whose pitching staff ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference. Lee had a team-best 3.80 ERA and worked to a 8-3 record including 92.1 innings pitched. Lee struck out a team-best 83 batters and held opponents to a .246 batting average. He owned a 6-2 record in league play and helped the Red Wolves to a 12-2 victory against Troy in the 2010 Sun Belt Conference tournament for which he earned all-tournament honors.

BAUMGARTNER EARNS ALL-CONFERENCE NOD: Senior outfielder Todd Baumgartner was named to the Sun Belt Conference preseason all-conference team. Baumgartner has one of the top returning bats for the Red Wolves and was a 2010 All-Sun Belt Conference selection. Last season, Baumgartner ranked second on the team with 42 RBI and had a .336 batting average. He also had 74 hits, 49 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. In the field, he was nearly perfect committing just one error in 112 chances for a .991 fielding percentage.

BASEBALL AMERICA ALL-SBC PRESEASON: Sophomore outfielder and junior RHP Jacob Lee earned preseason all-SBC honors by Baseball America. The Red Wolves were tabbed to finish sixth in the standings while Faulkner was called the best leadoff hitter in the league by Baseball America and Lee was tabbed as the second best pro prospect in the conference.