JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) — The Arkansas State Red Wolves saw their five-game win streak snapped Saturday afternoon, falling 10-7 to the Florida International Panthers in Sun Belt Conference baseball action at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
With the loss, ASU stands at 28-20 overall and 16-8 in Sun Belt Conference action. The Panthers improved to 30-21 overall and 14-12 in league play. The Red Wolves went into the day tied for first place in the league standings with Florida Atlantic, which played later in the day at UALR. The series is now tied after the Red Wolves opened with a 7-4 victory in the Friday night contest.
"FIU is a team filled with good hitters, so you've got to finish every game against them," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "They did a really good job of hitting, they didn't miss their pitches and it was a good job on their part."
FIU struck first, getting an RBI triple from second baseman T.J. Shantz and a run-scoring single from catcher Aramis Garcia to take a 2-0 lead in the second. A solo home run from center fielder Pablo Bermudez gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead in the third before ASU answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Shortstop Dustin Jones singled, moved to second on a single from center fielder Michael Faulkner, and eventually scored when first baseman Zach George reached on an FIU error to put the Red Wolves on the board, and Faulkner came home on a passed ball to cut the Panther lead to 3-2. RBI singles later in the inning from third baseman Claude Johnson and right fielder Kaleb Brown put ASU on top, 4-3.
Florida International countered with four runs in the top of the fourth, with the bulk of the damage coming on a three-run home run from right fielder Nathan Burns, to regain the lead at 7-4.
A-State picked up a run in the fourth when Faulkner sacrificed to center field to drive in second baseman Zach Maggio, but the Panthers got the run back in the fifth on a solo home run from Shantz to push the FIU advantage back to three at 8-5.
The Red Wolves threatened in the fifth, loading the bases with no outs, but FIU reliever John Caballero came on to strike out the side to stop the threat. A sixth-inning RBI double from Johnson and an RBI single in the seventh from Jones cut the Panther lead to a single run at 8-7, but a pair of ASU errors in the eighth helped Florida International plate two runs to extend its lead to 10-7.
Junior Daniel Wright took the loss on the mound for ASU, giving up seven runs on eight hits in four innings. Wright struck out two and walked two. Caballero picked up the win for FIU, surrendering two runs on four hits in three innings on the mound. Caballero walked one and struck out three. Michael Gomez earned his league-best 13th save of the season, working the final two innings without giving up a run or a hit.
Johnson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead ASU, while left fielder Jabari Henry was 3-for-5 and Shantz was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Senior Day festivities were held prior to the game, honoring seniors Jacob Lee, Cory Kyle, Daniel Short, Brandon Farley, Anthony Hecht and student-manager Jon Allen Garner.
The Red Wolves and Panthers will decide the series Sunday at 11:00 a.m.