Stranded runners haunt Red Wolves in 3-2 tourney opener loss

LAFAYETTE, LA (SBC) – Top-seeded Troy advanced in the second game of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship with a 3-2 victory over eighth-seeded Arkansas State at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.

The Red Wolves (26-30, 12-18 SBC) trailed 3-0 in the ninth inning when they plated a pair of runs and had the tying run on first base with two outs, but Troy's (40-16, 20-10) Nate Hill fired a strikeout to end the threat.

Jeremy McGowan (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after striking out five batters in 3.1 scoreless innings. Levi Tate started the game for Troy and pitched 2.1 innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts.

Trae Santos got the Trojans on the board in the second inning with a solo homer to right field. It was the 16th homer of the year for the junior from Barrigada, Guam.

"I was pretty sure it was gone, I hit it really well. I guessed wrong on the pitch but thankfully I was able to see it out of the pitcher's hand and put a good swing on it. [Daniel] Wright did a great job of keeping us off-balance today and he pitched really well," said Santos. "Our main goal was to win the top-seed. It's really gratifying knowing that we achieved that goal. It was a long, tough journey but I'm glad we could pull it out."

Wright (6-5) recorded the loss for ASU despite allowing just three runs in 8.0 innings. He struck out three and did not allow a free pass.

Troy extended its lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning after two-out RBI hits by Brandon Brown and Tyler Vaughn. Garrett Pitts got it started with a double off the wall in left field and scored on Brown's single to left field. Vaughn followed with a double down the left field line to score Brown.

The Red Wolves rallied in the ninth frame when Dustin Jones led off with a bunt single and advanced to third on a pitch-hit double to left field by Drew Burks. Jones scored on a groundout by Kevin Fitzpatrick and Burks came home on a wild pitch. Stuart Levy followed with a walk but could not advance.

ASU outhit Troy 9-8. Levy finished the game three-for-three with a walk to highlight the Red Wolves offense.

Troy advances in the winner's bracket on Thursday and will face fourth-seeded Florida Atlantic at 4:00 p.m. CT. ASU will take on fifth-seeded WKU in an elimination game at 9:00 a.m. CT on Thursday.