Big 6th inning lifts South Alabama over Red Wolves

JONESBORO, Ark. ( – Senior Daniel Wright struck out eight over six innings of work, but it was not enough as Arkansas State fell to South Alabama 6-2 in Sun Belt Conference baseball Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium.

A-State (19-15, 6-7 SBC) never led in the game fell behind in the top of the first inning when Wright surrounded his first run in 14 2/3 innings on a solo home run by Jordan Patters to right field to give the Jaguars an early lead.

USA (25-10, 8-5) tacked on another run in the top of the fourth inning and then opened the game up with four runs in the top of the sixth inning to build a deficit that ASU could not recover from.

"Credit South Alabama because they were very sharp," ASU head baseball coach Tommy Raffo said. "We had some missed opportunities and they took advantages of the opportunities they had and I think that was the difference in the ball game."

The Red Wolves left seven runners on base, but none proved more costly than in the bottom of the eighth inning. James Traylor replaced USA starting Jarron Cito, who struck out five and gave up two runs on five hits, to start the inning. After getting a strikeout to start the inning, Ryan Emery reached base on a dropped third-strike and a throwing error from the Jaguars' catcher.

Logan Uxa was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat and Claude Johnson drew a walk to load the basses with just one out in the inning, but the Red Wolves failed to score off the threat. Stuart Levy popped out after pinch-hitting for Ryan Roberts, who saw his 13-game hit streak come to an end, and Collin Massanelli struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded.

ASU scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Emery reached base on a one out triple to center field and scored on an RBI groundout from Uxa to cut the USA lead to 6-1. The Red Wolves scored another run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Massanelli scored on an RBI fielder's choice from Burks.

Massanelli also had a stolen base in the inning and now leads the team with three stolen bases on the year. Emery went 2-for-4 on the night with one run scores, while Claude Johnson, Alex Potts and Kevin Fitzpatrick each had a hit.

A-State and South Alabama will return to the field for game two of the three game series on Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium. First-pitch is set for 4 p.m.