LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) — Bradley Wallace struck out a career-high eight batters and gave up just one run on six hits as Arkansas State defeated Arkansas-Little Rock 7-5 Sunday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field.
The victory was the 12th straight over UALR and marked the four straight series the Red Wolves had swept from the Trojans. ASU (14-6, 3-0 SBC) also improved to 10-9-1 in Sun Belt Conference series openers and recorded its sixth sweep all-time in the league opening series.
"Anytime you go into somebody's park and can win three games it is a pretty big deal," ASU head coach Tommy Raffo said. "Bradley was great today and credit him for a good day on the mound. He is improving and this is where we envisioned him, on the weekend and I think he feels very right about where he is now in his growth."
Wallace earned his second quality start of the season by pitching six innings and gave up just one run on six hits for his third victory of the season. Seth McWilliams pitched the seventh and eighth innings for ASU before giving way to John Koch in the ninth, who picked up his third save in as many days.
ASU led 2-1 after five innings and tacked on four more runs in the top of the sixth inning. Ethan Yeo reached on error to start the inning and Alex Potts followed with a single to the left side. Dustin Jones advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Collin Massanelli drove in his eighth run of the weekend in the next at-bat to give the Red Wolves a two-run advantage.
Ryan Emery followed in the next at-bat with a double down the left field line that plated Massanelli and Potts and scored when Logan Uxa reached on an error by the UALR second basemen to give ASU a 6-1 edge after 5 ½ innings.
The Trojans scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to cut the lead to 6-4. Myles Parma drove in two runs with an inside-the-park home run and Ryan Scott drove in another run to cut the ASU lead to 6-4.
Arkansas State struck back in the top of the ninth when Johnson drove in Uxa to push the lead to 7-4. Uxa reached when turned a single into a double to put himself into scoring position.
The Trojans added another run in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Koch battled back and struck out the final batter of the game to pick up his third save of the year.
"Credit our guys for continuing to battle and this was a very big accomplishment," Raffo said. "Now we turn our attention to next week and can hopefully keep things headed in the right direction."
A-State struck first when they scored two runs in the top of third inning. Massanelli led off the inning and double and came around to score on an RBI double from Emery. Uxa followed with a single up the middle that scored Emery to give the Red Wolves an early 2-0 advantage.
UALR cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Sage Gasaway scored on a throwing error by Claude Johnson. The A-State third basemen tried to get a force out a second base on the play, but his throw pulled Potts off the bag, allowing Ben Crumpton to slide in safely and the run to score from third.
ASU will travel to Columbia, Mo., for a two-game midweek series against the Missouri Tigers March 19-20. Tuesday's game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., while Wednesday's game is slated to begin at 4.