Big 8th inning propels #2 Vanderbilt past ASU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( — The Arkansas State baseball team took a 3-3 tie with second-ranked Vanderbilt into the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Commodores plated four runs in their final at-bat and went on to hand the Red Wolves a 7-3 setback Tuesday night at Charles Hawkins Field.

The Red Wolves saw their record drop to 6-2 on the season, while Vanderbilt won its sixth consecutive game to improve to 8-1.

A-State got a solid effort on the mound from starter Bradley Wallace, who struck out a career-tying seven batters in 4.2 innings of work.  Along with Chandler Hawkins and Seth McWilliams, Wallace limited the Commodores to just three runs over the first seven innings before their big eighth inning.  Vanderbilt got two hits in the eighth, but was also able to take advantage of an ASU error, two walks and a hit batsman.

A-State was led at the plate by six players with a hit, including Zach George with a triple and a two-run homerun.  Collin Massanelli was responsible for ASU's other RBI, while Claude Johnson had a pair of hits.

The Commodores scored the first run of the game when Vince Conde hit a solo home run over the left field wall to start the bottom of the third inning.  Tony Kemp followed with an infield single, but was stranded at third base when Bradley picked up his fifth strikeout of the game to get out of the inning without any further damage.

Conde struck again in the fourth inning with a single up the middle that drove home Vanderbilt's second run.  The Commodores got a one-out hit and were issued a walk later in the inning to put runners on first and second when Conde collected his second hit.  Wallace was then able to get a fly out to end the inning and keep ASU within two runs.

After stranding runners in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings, A-State got on the scoreboard in the fifth with three runs on three hits to take a 3-2 lead.  Massanelli singled home Dustin Jones, who started the inning with an infield single, and George followed with his two-out home run.

Vanderbilt came right back in its half of the fifth inning to tie the score with its second solo homerun of the game.  With two outs, Connor Harrel tied the game on a shot to left-center field.  The Commodores put two more runners on base, but Chandler Hawkins entered the game in relief and got a strikeout to end the inning and keep the score tied.

A-State's Johnson singled to start the sixth inning, Jones was issued a walk and Alex Potts was hit by a pitch to load the bases for the Red Wolves, but they were unable to get the go-ahead run home after a ground-out ended the threat.  At the same time, Hawkins was able to keep the Commodores off the scoreboard in the sixth also as he completed his appearance giving up only one hit in 1.1 innings of work.

The top half of the seventh inning saw George deliver a one-out triple for ASU, but the Commodores were again able to get out of the inning without giving up a run.  Seth McWilliams entered the game in relief for A-State in the seventh and allowed a hit, but ended the inning with a strikeout to keep the score tied 3-3.

The Red Wolves left a runner stranded on third base for the third consecutive inning in the eighth, unable to take advantage of a two-out error by the Commodores that was followed by a single from Potts.  After the Commodores four-run eighth, they were able to retire ASU in order in the top of the ninth to pick up the win.

Arkansas State returns to action this weekend with a three-game series at Sam Houston State.  The Red Wolves and Bearkats will open the series Friday at 6:30 p.m. and follow with a 2 p.m. game Saturday and 1 p.m. contest Sunday.