JONESOBORO, Ark. (ASU) — Arkansas State fell to Western Kentucky 4-2 at Tomlinson Saturday afternoon in Sun Belt Conference baseball action.
The Red Wolves fell to 18-14 overall and 5-6 in league play, while the Hilltoppers improved to 17-14 and 8-3 in the conference.
"They executed and did a lot of the little things you need to do to win a baseball game," ASU head baseball coach Tommy Raffo said. "We did not execute very well and we had few opportunities in the sixth and seventh innings and even late in the game we had some chances and just couldn't execute."
Western Kentucky took a 1-0 in the top of the first inning and never relinquished the lead. The Hilltoppers added a run in the top of the sixth inning to build a two run advantage, but A-State answered in the bottom half of the inning to keep the deficit at one-run.
Kevin Fitzpatrick started the inning with an infield single and Ryan Emery followed with a double down the left field line that moved Fitzpatrick to third. Logan Uxa brought home the run with an RBI groundout to second to close the WKU lead to 2-1.
ASU failed to bring home another run, however, and left Emery stranded at third base with just one-out. The Red Wolves did not have a hit with a runner on third base on the afternoon and scored from third base on just one of the three opportunities that it had.
A-State struggled to get runners on base Western Kentucky's starter Andrew Edwards. The squad managed just six hits off the Hilltopper hurler, but did have an opportunity to do some damage in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Alex Potts reached base when he was hit by a pitch and Stuart Levy with a single through the left side. Dustin Jones followed with a single to load the bases, but Fitzpatrick struck out swinging and Emery grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat.
The Hilltoppers scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to extend their lead 4-1, but ASU refused to go quietly. Uxa drew a 1-out walk in the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Ryan Roberts brought home Uxa with his only hit of the game with a single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 12 straight games. The Red Wolves failed to score any more runs in the inning, however, leaving a runner on base for the seventh time in the game.
After WKU went quietly in the top of the ninth, ASU trailed to mount a 2-out rally when Fitzpatrick reached on an infield single, but was thrown out in the next at-bat trying to advance on a wild pitch that ended the game.
Chandler Hawkins took the loss for A-State despite a very effective outing. The sophomore went 4 2/3 and gave up just one run on four hits. Cody Woodhouse pitched 2 1/3 inning in relief and allowed two runs on three hits, while Tanner Ring allowed one on two hits in one inning of work. Adam Grantham pitched a perfect ninth inning in his 10th appearance of the season.
Fitzpatrick and Emery led ASU at the plate with two hits each, while Uxa and Roberts had ASU's only RBIs of the game. In addition to Roberts' hitting streak, he also reached base in 14 straight games.
The series will finale will start at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.