JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – The Arkansas State baseball team fell 3-2 to Florida Atlantic in the series finale of its Sun Belt Conference home opening series Sunday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.
The Red Wolves dropped two of three games over the weekend to the Owls after a splitting a doubleheader on Saturday. A-State fell to 16-9 overall on the year and 4-2 in Sun Belt Conference play. FAU improved to 15-9 overall and 4-2 in league play.
"There were to many big moments over this weekend that we didn't win," ASU head baseball coach Tommy Raffo said. "We kept battling and had opportunities throughout the series, but just could not seem to come up with that timely hit or play when we had the opportunity."
Ryan Roberts went 4-for-5 on the day with one RBI. His final hit was a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth to with ASU trailing by one run, but the Red Wolves failed to push across the run.
ASU trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning but Kevin Fitzpatrick slapped a two-out, pinch-hit single to left field that scored Claude Johnson to even the score. Johnson reached on an infield single and advanced to third on a single by Roberts to put runners on the corners for Fitzpatrick.
FAU responded quickly, however, scoring the go ahead run in the top of the eighth on an RBI single from Brendon Sanger to give the Owls a one run lead that they would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
The Red Wolves had other scoring opportunities throughout the game. A-State had runners in scoring position in the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the third inning. In all, ASU left 13 runners on base on the day.
"I think there were some chances early in the game for both teams and we didn't any of those opportunities," Raffo said. "We didn't win as many good moments as we had in the past and it showed up today, but we had a great performance from Bradley Wallace on the mound but we just weren't able to get the big hits when we needed them throughout the weekend."
Roberts broke 0-0 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning with an RBI single that plated Logan Uxa to give the Red Wolves a 1-0 lead. A-State took advantage of two FAU miscues in the inning. Uxa reached base on an error by the Owls' second baseman and went to third when Johnson got on base on an error by the third baseman to put runners on the corners.
FAU responded in the top of the sixth and tied the score when Ricky Santiago drove in Mike Spano on an RBI single to even the game at 1-1. Spano reached when he led off the frame with a walk and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Levi Meyer.
The Owls took the lead in the top of the 7th inning on an RBI single from Mark Nelson off ASU relief pitcher Seth McWilliams that gave FAU a 2-1 advantage. McWilliams threw two innings after coming in for Bradley Wallace to start the inning. Tanner Ring pitched the ninth inning for A-State.
Wallace turned in his third quality start of the season after giving up just one run on seven hits. He struck out six and issued just one walk in his fifth start of the season.
ASU will travel to Oxford, Miss., on Wednesday, March 27 for a midweek matchup against No. 6 Ole Miss. The game is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.