MOBILE, AL (AStateRedWolves.com) – Arkansas State scored two runs in the eighth inning and Bradley Wallace turned in the best performance of his A-State career to lead the Red Wolves to a 4-3 victory over South Alabama in an elimination game Thursday afternoon at the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Tournament on the University of South Alabama campus.
A-State (31-26) advances to play in another elimination game Friday night at 6:30 p.m. against the loser of the UT-Arlington and Troy game on Thursday night while the Jaguars were eliminated from the tournament.
Wallace (4-5) was fantastic in his second career start in the SBC Tournament. After needing 60-plus pitches to get through the first four innings, he settled into groove and got stronger as the game went on.
He gave up his second run of the game in with two outs in the fourth inning to give the Jaguars a 2-1 lead, but retired the final 13 batters he faced in a row before giving way to the bullpen in the ninth.
The senior right-hander from Rison, Ark., set career-highs in innings pitches (eight innings) and total pitches (119) after struggling through the first few innings.
USA (22-33) loaded the bases twice in the first inning, but Wallace limited the damage to just one run in the inning. The Jaguars loaded the bases again in the second, but Wallace again battled back and did not allow a run to score and then got South Alabama to strand two runners in the third inning to keep the game tied.
The third-seeded Red Wolves trailed 2-1 after seven innings but finally were able to push through against USA starter Locke St. John with a two run rally in the eighth. Senior co-captain Dustin Jones started the inning with a leadoff single and stole second to move himself into scoring position. Fellow senior co-captain Zach Maggio drove him with a single up the middle and moved to second on an error by the Jaguars' centerfielder.
Sophomore Austin Baker plated Maggio with an RBI single back up the middle to put A-State up 3-2 and gave the Red Wolves their first lead since the first inning.
Arkansas State added a run in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Lucas Feddersen and Morgan Croft picked up his eighth save of the season by pitching the ninth.
Croft got the first man he faced, but then gave up a double to Garrett DeGallier and Cole Gleason drove him in with a two-out single to cut the deficit to 4-3. Croft came back and got Connor Hawthorne to fly out to left field to end the game send the Red Wolves to their third game of the tournament.
Tanner Ring had the only two A-State hits through the first seven innings and drove in a run in the first inning. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Maggio scored twice with one hit and one RBI.
Friday's game can be heard on 95.3FM The Ticket/970AM and on AStateRedWolves.com. Live video streaming will also be available on SunBeltSports.org on the Tournament Central page.
For in-game updates follow @AStateGameDay on Twitter and stay up to date with A-State baseball by following the team on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and Facebook (Facebook.com/RedWolvesbaseball).