JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) — Senior right-hander Daniel Wright tossed a complete-game shutout to lead Arkansas State to a 6-0 victory over Western Kentucky Friday night in Sun Belt Conference baseball action at Tomlinson Stadium.
Wright yielded just five hits across nine innings and struck out a career-high 11 for his third victory of the season. Over his last three starts, Wright has allowed just two runs and has struck out 28 batters.
The Bartlett, Tenn., native also retired 12 consecutive batters in the game's middle innings and did not allow a runner to advance past second base after the first inning.
"Daniel was just phenomenal tonight," ASU head baseball coach Tommy Raffo said. "He was able to throw strikes when he wanted to with different pitches and when you are able to do that it hard for an offense to get going."
ASU improved to the 18-13 overall on the season and 5-5 in league play, while Western Kentucky fell to 16-14 overall and 7-3 in the conference.
The Red Wolves clung to 1-0 lead through six innings, but opened the game up with five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Dustin Jones and Tanner Ring led off the inning with a pair of singles and Ryan Emery reached base on an error by Hilltopper Blake Crabtree that allowed Jones to score from second base. Logan Uxa followed with a walk to load the bases and Claude Johnson pushed the ASU lead to 3-0 with a walk in the next at-bat.
Ryan Roberts followed with sacrifice fly to right field that scored Emery from third and Drew Burks collected his second hit of the night when he beat out a groundball to the WKU shortstop. The throw was low and got past the first basemen, which allowed Uxa to score the fourth run of the inning. Johnson later scored on a wild pitch to cap the scoring for A-State in the inning.
Wright was near perfect over the final two innings, allowing just one runner to reach base and striking out three. He was efficient in his first career complete game, needing just 116 pitches to get through nine innings. He lowered his ERA from 2.53 to 2.11 and threw 80 pitches for strikes.
"We had some people play defense behind him and got some hits for him tonight," Raffo said. "Then we were able to get a big inning for him in the seventh inning and get a little more support for him."
A-State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Collin Massanelli scored on a strange play. Ring hit a groundball to the Hilltopper shortstop but WKU first baseman Ryan Huck was hit in the face on a throw, which allowed Massanelli to score from third on the play.
Burks and Massanelli finished the night with two hits each, while Johnson and Roberts each had an RBI. Roberts also extended his hitting streak to 11-straight games with a single in the sixth inning.
The Red Wolves have shutout the Hilltoppers in two of their last four games, including a 5-0 victory over the school last season in Jonesboro. It was also the Red Wolves second shutout victory of the 2013 season, after earning their first against UT-Martin in February.
ASU and WKU will play game two of the series on Saturday at 4 p.m. with Chandler Hawkins scheduled to start for the Red Wolves.