JONESBORO, AR (ASU) — It took two days, numerous rain delays, and a 17-hour suspension, but Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee completed the first game of their three-game Sun Belt Conference series Saturday afternoon, with the Red Wolves defeating the Blue Raiders 4-3 at Tomlinson Stadium.
The Red Wolves scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning, which spanned across two days, and never relinquished the lead. On Friday night, A-State loaded the bases with one out, but the game was delayed and then eventually suspended due to lightning strikes and heavy rain in the Jonesboro area.
After a 17 hour and 40 minute suspension, the game resumed on Saturday at 2:15 with Dustin Jones at the plate who proceeded to hit a 3-run triple to right center that scored three runs. Kevin Fitzpatrick followed with a groundout to the shortstop to drive in Jones and give ASU a 4-0 lead.
Middle Tennessee scored a run in the top of the sixth and added two more in the eighth, but John Koch struck out three with the bases loaded and then recorded three outs in the ninth inning to pick up his fifth save of the season.
"They are very good team and credit them because they were able to do some things in the eighth inning and make it a very close ball game," ASU head coach Tommy Raffo said. "We had some opportunities earlier in the game that we were able to take advantage of then got a really good effort from Daniel Wright and John Koch to help close out the game."
The game was delayed two hours and 11 minutes from its original start time on Friday night due to rain and lightning in the Northeast Arkansas area. The Red Wolves and Blue Raiders played an inning and a half before the game was delayed again and eventually suspended due to the severe weather.
The game resumed Saturday afternoon at 2:15 long enough for the Red Wolves to score four runs, but the game was stopped again at 2:20 p.m. for another rain and lightning delay. The game resumed for the final time at 3:29 p.m. and the Red Wolves held on to their lead in the final innings to secure the win.
Daniel Wright (5-3) turned a terrific performance on the mound over the two days of work. He sat down the Blue Raiders in order in the first two innings he pitched on Friday night and then came back on Saturday to finish the game with seven strikeouts in seven innings of work. He gave up three runs on four hits.
Koch entered the game in top of the eighth with runners on first and third with no outs and gave up back-to-back RBI singles to close the A-State lead to 4-3. Koch had the bases loaded with no outs, but struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam. He then pitched around a 1-out single in the ninth inning to earn the save.
ASU scored all of its runs in the second inning when Claude Johnson reached base to start the inning after being hit by a pitch. Ryan Roberts and Alex Potts followed with walks to load the bases before the game was suspended for the night.
A-State and Middle Tennessee were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but due to the threat of rain throughout the night, the doubleheader was pushed back to Sunday. Game one of the twin bill will begin at 11 a.m. with the second game to follow 30-minutes after the conclusion of the first.