JONESBORO, AR (
The Arkansas State baseball squad swept the Illinois State Redbirds by scores of 13-4 and 11-5 Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium to earn a series victory on the opening weekend of the 2015 season.
The Red Wolves (2-1) opened the first game of the doubleheader with a three-run first inning featuring an RBI double from Matt Burgess and a two-run single by Tanner Ring, but Illinois State (1-2) plated a lone run in the second inning on an A-State error. The Redbirds' Mason Snyder homered to trim the A-State lead to 3-2 in the top of the third inning, but Ty White tripled in two runs in the bottom half of the inning to give the Red Wolves a 5-2 lead.
Austin Baker led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left field and Ring added another RBI on a groundout to extend A-State's lead to 7-2 before Paul DeJong homered in the top of the fifth to bring the visitors to within 7-3. Baker brought home White with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth and later scored on a Stuart Levy single to set the score at 9-3.
Arkansas State scored four more runs in the bottom of the eighth starting with a sacrifice fly by Ring before Joe Schrimpf singled home Levy and Collin Massanelli for a 12-3 A-State lead. White added another RBI on a groundout to end A-State's scoring for the game as the team took a 13-3 lead to the ninth. Illinois State added one run in the final frame to set the final at 13-4.
Chandler Hawkins earned the victory for the Red Wolves after pitching five innings and allowing three runs on nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Derek Birginske picked up his first career save as he pitched the final four frames of the game and only gave up one run on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. White went 4-for-5 from the plate with three RBIs and a stolen base, while Ring knocked in four runs. Baker, Levy, and Schrimpf each had two hits apiece.
A-State began the second game strongly as well after Schrimpf knocked in a run after getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to open the scoring. Jeremy Brown stepped up to the plate next and knocked a 2-1 pitch over the left field fence for his first collegiate hit to give A-State a 5-0 lead. However, the Redbirds chipped away with runs in the second and third innings and added two runs in the fifth to cut A-State's advantage to 5-4.
Illinois State pushed across the tying run in the top of the sixth inning after Jean Ramirez hit a two-out triple and later scored on a wild pitch by reliever Cody Jackson. The Red Wolves responded in a big way in the bottom half of the inning with White knocking in the first run of the inning on a bloop single to left. Brown and White later scored on an error to extend A-State's lead to 8-5 with no outs in the inning.
Zach George singled home Baker and Tim Seldomridge and later scored on a sacrifice fly from second base after Illinois State's centerfielder Daniel Dwyer made a diving catch in deep center to push A-State's edge to 11-5. Levy was caught stealing and Ring flew out to center to end the inning for the Red Wolves.
Colton Kibler relieved Jackson and through three shutout innings to earn the save as he allowed three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. Jackson earned his first career win after Tyler Zuber started the game by throwing five innings. Zuber allowed four runs; three earned, and walked two while striking out six in his first career start.
George led the A-State offense with two hits and knocked in two runs to go along with two runs scored. Brown's four RBIs on the grand slam in the first inning led the squad in the second game, while White added another hit and RBI to give him a 5-for-8 day with four RBIs. The A-State bullpen combined to throw eight innings on the afternoon and allowed only two runs on nine hits with two walks and 13 strikeouts.