ASU's ninth inning rally falls short at FIU

From Arkansas State University

Arkansas State scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning, but fell one run of completing the comeback in an 8-7 loss to Florida International Saturday afternoon.

The Red Wolves trailed 8-3 going into the top of the ninth inning and were down to their final strike, when Logan Uxa hit a fly ball into left field that was dropped by Roche Woodard and allowed Alex Potts and Ryan Emery to score to bring A-State within 8-5.

Austin Baker followed with a walk and Ryan Roberts drove home both Uxa and Baker with a single to right field to bring the Red Wolves within a run, but Ethan Yeo flied to left field in the next at-bat to end the rally.

"Credit the guys because they kept battling and never gave up," ASU head coach Tommy Raffo said. "We had some things finally go our way there in the late innings and it looked like we might pull it out, but we just came up a little short."

The Red Wolves fell to 16-12 overall on the year and 4-4 in Sun Belt Conference play, while FIU improved to 14-12 and 4-4 in league play.

A-State wasted little time putting runs on the scoreboard, plating two runs in the top of the first inning after having not scored in their previous 12 frames. Kevin Fitzpatrick, who made his second career start in center field, led off the game with a single to left and Potts moved him to second base with his 15th sacrifice bunt of the year.

Emery drove in Fitzpatrick with a double down the left field line for his team leading 22nd RBI and later scored on an RBI single from Uxa to give the Red Wolves an early 2-0 lead after just the first half inning.

The Panthers answered quickly; however, scoring four runs with two outs in the bottom half of the inning. Edwin Rios drove in FIU's first run of the game with a bases loaded walk. Nathan Burns followed with a two-RBI double that scored Rios and Aramis Garcia. Oscar Aguirre also scored on the play after Fitzpatrick misplayed the ball in center field to give the Panthers a 4-2 edge after the first inning.

ASU starting pitcher Chandler Hawkins had a rough outing and did not make out of the second inning. After giving up four runs on three hits in the bottom of the first, he walked the first two batters to start the second inning and then gave up an infield single to load bases. Junior right-hander Cody Woodhouse replaced Hawkins and proceeded to pitch out of the bases loaded jam by getting Garcia to pop up, a fly out to left field by Josh Anderson and then getting Rios to ground to Uxa at first to end the threat.

Uxa cut the FIU lead to 4-3 with a solo blast to right-center field in the fifth inning. It was his second home run of the season and the 18th of his career at Arkansas State.

The Red Wolves had an opportunity to tie the game in the top of the 8th inning when Roberts drew a two-out walk and Drew Burks followed with a walk, but Arkansas failed to advance the runners any further.

ASU left 10 runners on base and needed seven pitchers to get through the game. Woodhouse pitched four innings after coming for Hawkins and tossed four innings of shutout baseball. He struck out three, did not walk a batter and gave up just four hits.

FIU scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning that proved to be pivotal in the game's final outcome. The inning included Aguirre stealing home on a botched squeeze play attempt and an RBI single from Woodard. The Panthers added two more runs in the inning, including a bases loaded walk by Rios that proved the be the game's winning run.

Sunday's series finale will begin at 10 a.m. with Bradley Wallace scheduled to start for the Red Wolves.