STATESBORO, GA (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State baseball squad dropped both games of a doubleheader Saturday against Georgia Southern by scores of 3-2 (11 innings) and 6-3 at JI Clements Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
The Red Wolves (9-11, 2-6 SBC) didn't waste much time putting pressure on Georgia Southern (14-11, 6-3 SBC) in game one after Stuart Levy was hit by the first pitch of the second inning and Tanner Ring followed with a bunt single. Joe Schrimpf faked a bunt and hit a hard ground ball that the Eagles turned into a force play at second to retire Ring. Last night's hero Jeremy Brown safety-squeezed Levy in for the first run of the game, but Ty Michelotti grounded out to short to end the inning.
A-State appeared poised to add on to the lead in the top of the third when Austin Baker doubled down the right-field line with two outs, but he was thrown out at home trying to score on a Matt Burgess single to right field.
A-State kept the 1-0 advantage until the eighth inning when reliever Cody Jackson entered the game and gave up a home to Aaron Mizell to lead off the inning. The next two hitters singled before Jackson was able to force out the lead runner on a sacrifice bunt for the first out of the inning. However, the Eagles' Dalton Busby singled through the left side to plate Hunter Thomas for the go-ahead run. C.J. Brazil lined into a double play to end the inning.
The ninth inning began with Ring reaching on an error before being lifted for pinch-runner Collin Massanelli. Schrimpf bunted Massanelli to second base and Brown doubled him home to tie the game at 2-2. The next two A-State hitters were retired to end the threat and Georgia Southern didn't score in the bottom half to send the two teams to extra innings for the second consecutive contest.
The Red Wolves threatened in the top of the 11th when Levy led off with a double down the left-field line. Daltan Lovell pinch hit to lay down a bunt, but bunted it right to the charging Eagles' first baseman that fired to third base to retire Levy. Schrimpf smashed a ball in the next at-bat, but Georgia Southern's shortstop Busby was able to snag the ball and start a 6-4-3 double play that ended A-State's inning.
Georgia Southern's Kent Rollins led off the bottom of the 11th with a ground ball that appeared destined to be a 6-3 putout, but the ball hit the lip of the infield and bounced over Brown's head into center field for a hit. A sacrifice bunt moved Rollins to second before an intentional walk brought up Ryan Cleveland, who had been a defensive substitution in the ninth inning. Chandler Hawkins got ahead in the count 1-2, but Cleveland lined a pitch to the center field wall over Baker's head. Rollins waited for the ball to hit the ground, but was able to score the winning run ahead of Baker's throw.
Hawkins took the loss for the Red Wolves to fall to 1-5 on the year after giving up one run on two hits with five walks and only one strikeout. David Owen started the game and turned in a quality start as the junior right-hander went 6.1 innings and allowed no runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. A-State's offense could only muster six hits with Brown driving in both runs.
Game two began in similar fashion as the Red Wolves obtained an early lead in the top of the second inning. Burgess led off with a double that hit the wall in left-center field and scored a batter later on a Levy single through the left side. Brett Andersen and Schrimpf both hit the ball hard, but flew out to the warning track for the next two outs. Brown singled up the middle to put two runners on, but Tim Seldomridge grounded out on a bunt attempt to end the frame.
Ty White began the third inning with a single and Zach George was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Baker sacrificed both runners up a base and White scored on a base hit to center field by Burgess to put A-State up 2-0. However, a line out and ground out sandwiched around a walk ended the threat.
The Eagles got one run back on a home run by Spencer Duffie to begin the bottom of the third inning, but A-State starter Adam Grantham settled down to get out of the inning without any further damage. Georgia Southern tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth inning when Mizell led off the frame with a solo home run off reliever Bo Ritter. Ritter worked the rest of that inning and the seventh without allowing the Eagles to put up any more runs.
Derek Birginske came on to pitch the eighth inning for the Red Wolves and gave up a single before walking the next batter to put the first two batters on base. The Eagles sacrificed the runners to second and third before Hunter Thomas doubled down the right-field line to score both runners. The Eagles added two more runs on RBI singles in the inning to take a 6-2 edge to the ninth.
Levy doubled down the left-field line to lead off the top of the ninth and his pinch-runner Michelotti scored on a Schrimpf single to make the score 6-3 with one out. Brown flew out to right field before Jason Richman entered the game and got Lovell to ground out to third base to end the game.
Birginske took the loss for Arkansas State, but Grantham was solid on the mound for the Red Wolves as the junior right-hander tossed a career-high 4.2 innings and only gave up one run on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Burgess and Levy both had two hits and one RBI apiece to pace the Red Wolves on the offensive side.