Red Wolves fall in final midweek contest at Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ( —The Arkansas State baseball fell to the University of Tennessee 12-3 Wednesday afternoon its final midweek contest of the year.

The Red Wolves jumped out in front when Ryan Emery hit his first home run of the year in the top of the first inning, but the Volunteers scored 12 unanswered runs to hand the Red Wolves the loss.

ASU (24-25) wasted no time in taking the early lead. Austin Baker doubled off down the wall in left field to start the game and Emery followed one batter with a massive home run over the wall in right centerfield to give the Red Wolves a 2-0 advantage.

The Red Wolves were aggressive at the plate from the game's start and chased Tennessee (19-26) starting pitcher Matt Esparza from the game after just 1 2/3 innings of work. Esparza gave up two runs on two hits but also walked three, including two in the second inning. Aaron Quillen replaced Esparza and struck out Collin Massanelli to end the scoring threat for ASU in the inning.

The Vols tied the game in the second inning when Christin Stewart launched a two-run home run over the scoreboard in right field. A-State committed an error prior to the home run when Taylor Smart reached on a throwing error by Claude Johnson at third base. It proved costly as Steward followed with the home run to tie the game.

Tennessee took the lead in the third inning when it scored two runs on four hits off Derek Birginske who had come into the game in relief of starting pitcher David Owen. The Vols got things started with a bloop single into centerfield from A.J. Simcox and Scott Price followed with a triple to left centerfield to give Tennessee the lead. Vincent Jackson drove in Simcox with an RBI groundout in the next at bat and the Vols extended their lead to 4-2.

ASU had an opportunity to cut into the lead in the sixth inning when Ryan Roberts and Alex Potts each reached with two outs in the inning, but Dustin Jones was robbed of a hit from Mike Lance who made a sliding catch in centerfielder to end the inning.

The Volunteers continued to add to their lead, scoring two runs in the fifth inning, fourth in the fifth inning and to in the seventh to push the lead to 12-2.

Dustin Jones drove in a run in the ninth inning for A-State. Stuart Levy doubled down the left field line and Jones had a base hit up the middle to plate the third run of the night for the Red Wolves.

Both teams combined to use 13 pitchers on the night, seven of which came from the ASU bullpen. Emery and Jones had the only RBIs of the night for ASU, while Baker, Emery, Ryan Roberts, Stuart Levy and Alex Potts all had hits on the night.

ASU will return to the field for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at Troy May 10-12. Friday and Saturday's contests are set to begin at 6 p.m., while Sunday's game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.