MONROE, La., (ASU) – Arkansas State scored six runs in the ninth inning to tie their opening round game and force extra innings, but FIU hit a three-out walk off home run in the bottom of the 10th to take the opening round contest 13-10 over the Red Wolves Wednesday at the Sun Belt Conference baseball tournament at Warhawk Field.
ASU recorded its big inning in the top of the ninth, scoring six runs to tie the game at 10-10 when Jordan Castaldo hit a grand-slam home run and Michael Faulkner drove in two runs on a fielding error by FIU's second baseman to force the extra frames.
ASU was held scoreless in the top of the 10th before FIU's Garrett Wittels hit the walk-off three run shot to take the contest for FIU.
The loss drops ASU to 25-31-1 on the year while the No. 22-ranked Golden Panthers improve to 38-17-1.
ASU outhit FIU 18-14 and committed just on error to FIU's four, however, the Red Wolves stranded 13 runners to the Golden Panthers six.
"Anytime you play in a tournament I think that anything can happen and obviously you have seen that in today's first two games," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "We faced a very, very good club today, I think they are ranked 22nd in the country you can see why they can really swing the bat. I am proud of the effort we had in coming back, especially in the ninth to tie it, they were resilient. Just couldn't push across that extra run to force that, give them the credit to score the three runs in the bottom of the 10th to win the game."
ASU jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a solo home run by Zach George in the second inning and a sacrifice fly by Todd Baumgartner in the third. It was the first career home run for George.
FIU then scored six runs on six hits in the bottom of the third highlighted by a two-RBI double by Jeremy Patton and a three-run home run by Rudy Flores to take a 6-2 lead.
The Golden Panthers tacked on another run in the fifth frame on a solo home run by Mike Martinez.
ASU cut into the FIU lead in the sixth when Tyler Smith grounded-out to plate George, moving The Red Wolves within the Golden Panthers, 7-3.
FIU took an 10-3 lead when Rudy Flores and Mike Martinez hit back to back RBI doubles and TJ Shantz hit an RBI single.
Baumgartner hit a solo home run in the eighth inning off FIU Relief pitcher Jose Velazquez. It was the first home run given up by Velazquez this season and only the ninth earned run given up by the reliever moving ASU within six 10-4.
Coupled with his earlier RBI on his sacrifice fly, Baumgartner took over sole possession of the career RBI record at Arkansas State with 138 career RBI.
The Red Wolves continue conference tournament action on Friday at 11 a.m. facing off against No.3-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette.