LEADING OFF: Arkansas State will play a midweek game against SEC opponent Vanderbilt on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in Nashville. The Commodores are ranked No. 2 in the nation in the latest Baseball America poll and No. 3 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll. ASU went 3-1 over the last week, defeating Memphis 3-2 during midweek and then taking 2-of-3 games from Western Illinois over the weekend. Vanderbilt is 7-1 on the year and are winners of five straight. This will be the Commodores second game against a team from the Natural State.
THE TEAMS: Arkansas State has won six of its first seven games to start the season and is off to one of the best starts in school history. The Red Wolves used extra innings to defeat regional rival Memphis 3-2 at FedExPark during midweek action and then won two of the three games against Western Illinois. The Red Wolves have given up just 21 runs on the year, tied for fewest in the Sun Belt and have struck out 77 batters, the second most in the league. At the plate, A-State has a .321 batting average and leads the league with 13 sac bunts this season.
Vanderbilt enters the game with a 7-1 record, having recently swept Monmouth in a 3-game series. The Commodores have a .327 batting average on the year and have scored 79 runs. The pitching staff has a 2.79 ERA and has recorded 77 strikeouts on the young season, while issuing just 38 walks.
ASU/VANDERBILT SERIES HISTORY
• Vanderbilt and Arkansas State have played on just one previous occasion, with the Commodores winning 12-2 in 2004.
SCOUTING THE COMMODORES
• The Commodores are 7-1 on the season with their only loss coming to Long Beach State in their opening weekend.
• Vanderbilt is ranked No. 2 in the latest Baseball America poll and No. 3 in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll.
• Jack Lupo leads Vanderbilt with a .417 batting average, while Connor Harrell leads the team in home runs (2), RBIs (14), slugging percentage (.731) and on-base percentage (.529).
• Starting pitcher Walker Buehler has made one previous start on the year against Central Arkansas. He gave up one run on two hits in four innings of work.
A-STATE VS RANKED TEAMS
• ASU is 10-31 against ranked teams since the 2003 season.
• A-State defeate #2 Ole Miss 7-5 in 2008. With the win, ASU defeated the highest ranked team it had faced since 2003.
• The last win over a ranked team was during the 2012 season when the Red Wolve defeated Ole Miss 10-5 in Jonesboro on May 15.
HOME RUN HEROES
• Claude Johnson and Logan Uxa each hit their first home runs of the season in a 14-6 victory over Western Illinois on Feb. 24.
• Johnson's home run just the second of his career.
• Uxa's home run traveled an estimated 415-feet and was the 17th blast of his career.
MCWILLIAMS SHUTS THEM DOWN
• Senior Seth McWilliams earned two wins in relief action out of the bullpen during the week of Feb. 18-24.
• The right-hander threw 2.2 innings of relief against Memphis on Feb. 19 and earned the victory in ASU's 3-2 comeback victory.
• McWilliams also earned the victory after pitching 2.1 innings in the Red Wolves 14-6 win over Western Illinois on Feb. 24.
• For the week, McWilliams tossed five innings in relief, struck out seven and did not give up a run.
• The Red Wolves were down to their last out, but rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Memphis 3-2 on Feb. 19.
• Collin Massanelli drove in two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game at 2-2.
• Ryan Emery followed with a game winning RBI single in the top of the 10th inning and Tanner Ring closed out the game in the bottom of the 10th to give A-State the win.
RING GETS FIRST SAVE
• Freshman Tanner Ring picked up his first career save at Memphis on Feb. 19.
• Ring entered the game in bottom of the ninth inning as a defensive replacement at second base and then moved to the mound in the bottom of the 10th inning.
KOCH SETS CAREER HIGH
• In his first career start, senior John Koch struck out a career-high 11 batters on Feb. 15.
• Koch pitched five innings, gave up three runs on nine hits to earn his first win as a starter.
PITCHING STAFF SHINES
• The A-State pitching staff recorded a school record 19 strike outs in the 10-5 victory over Bradley on Opening night on Feb. 15.
• The previous record was 18 strikeouts, which ASU did twice. The first was in 1995 against Memphis and the second was against Kansas State in 1960.
• On opening weekend, A-State recorded 37 strikeouts and allowed just eight runs and walked 7 batters in 27 innings.
OPENING SERIES SWEEP
• ASU recorded a three-game series sweep for the first time since 1971 and for only the second time in school history.
GRANTHAM MAKES MOST OF FIRST START
• True freshman Adam Grantham earned his first career win on Feb. 17 in a 12-2 victory over Bradley.
• Grantham threw four innings, struck out five and did not allow any runs in his first career start.
• Grantham was a 32nd round draft selection of the Atlanta Braves coming out of high school.
BAKER GOES DEEP
• True freshman Austin Baker hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in his collegiate career on Feb. 16
• Baker went 3-for-3 on the day and was a triple from the cycle. He had three RBIs on the day and was walked once.
• Arkansas State senior right-hander John Koch notched a rare four strike out inning in the Red Wolves 10-5 victory over Bradley Feb. 15. After Bradley's David Compitello reached on a dropped third strike out in the fourth inning with one out, Koch proceeded to strike out two more batters to end the inning.
LOOKING BACK AT 2012
• ASU had one of the most succesful seasons in school history, finishing with a 34-23 overall record and a 19-9 record in Sun Belt Conference play.
• A-State finished second overall in the SBC and the 34 victories were the most for any team in the Sun Belt Conference and the most in head coach Tommy Raffo's four seasons.
• ASU's 34 victories are also the most since winning 35 games in 1997 and the fourth-most in school history.
• Senior outfielder Logan Uxa and junior shortstop Dustin Jones were named to the Sun Belt Conference Preseason All-Conference team.
• Uxa led the Red Wolves with 10 home runs a year ago and drove in a team-high 44 runs. His .477 slugging percentage and .434 on-base percentage were each the second highest on the team, and he led the Red Wolves with 48 runs scored.
• Jones had a .279 batting average last season including 50 hits, 25 runs scored and seven doubles. He had a 10-game hitting and started 55 games at shortstop. In the field, he had a .966 fielding percentage and committed just eight errors on the year.
STREAKS TO WATCH
• Collin Massanelli, Ryan Emery and Logan Uxa have all hit safely in their last give games.
• Alex Potts, Zach George and Ryan Emery have all reached in every ASU game this season.
• Eight starting position players return for the 2012 team. John Koch, ASU's all-time career saves leader, will move to the starting rotation this season, while fellow senior Daniel Wright returns after posting a 5.14 ERA last season. He had a strong season in the New England Coast Baseball League where he helped his team win the NECBL Championship Series after posting a 6-0 record in the regular season and a 3.92 ERA.
GOING TO THE SHOW
• A-State had three players drafted from last year's squad, led by Jacob Lee who was drafted in the ninth round by the Cleveland Indians.
• Lee was the highest player ever drafted from the ASU baseball program.
• Michael Faulkner was taken in the 12th round by Seattle, making him the second highest selection ever in program history.
• Brandon Farley was taken in the 33rd round by the San Francisco Giants, while incoming freshman Adam Grantham was a 32nd round pick of the Atlanta Braves.
SUN BELT NETWORK TO AIR ASU-UALR GAME
• The Sun Belt Conference has announced that the Arkansas State baseball game against UALR on May 18 will be televised by the Sun Belt Network through its partnership with Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) and Cox Sports Television (CST). An official start time for the game will be announced at a later date.