JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Derek Birginske surrendered just four runs over seven innings and left with a 1-run lead, but Tennessee rallied to score three runs over the final two innings to defeat Arkansas State 7-4 in midweek baseball Wednesday night at Tomlinson Stadium.
Birginske tossed a career-high 115 pitches, struck out four and left the game at 4-4 tie after Tanner Ring drove in Austin Baker in the seventh inning on an RBI single. Tennessee executed a squeeze bunt with Brodie Leftridge in the eighth inning to go up by a run and Christin Stewart hit the second of his two home runs on the night in the ninth inning to give the Volunteers a 3-run cushion and Arkansas State went down in order in the ninth to fall to 12-15 overall. Tennessee improved to 12-13 with the victory.
Austin Baker led A-State at the plate with a 3-for-5 night, while Matt Burgess had a hit and two RBIs. Stuart Levy and Ty White each finished the night a hit and one RBI.
Tennessee plated a run on the top of the first inning when the first two batters reached, but Birginske battled back and got a pair of fly ball outs to left field and Levy threw out a runner trying to steal second to limit the damage to just one run in the inning.
A-State responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning thanks to a pair of RBI doubles by Levy and Burgess. Levy drove in White on ball that sailed over the right fielder's head and White was able to slide around the tag at home plate to tie the game at 1-1.
Burgess gave the Red Wolves the lead with an opposite field double that scored Levy and George to put A-State up 3-1.
Tennessee took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning when Stewart sent the offering from Birginske over the fence in right field for a 3-run home run. Birginske had two on with two outs in the inning and got ahead of 1-2 in the count before the junior leftfielder turned a pitch to give the Volunteers the 1-run advantage.
Zach George extended the nation's longest on-base streak to 44 games with a hit-by-pitch in the first inning and finished the game with a walk and was hit twice.
The game was delayed for an hour and 48 minutes after heavy rain and lightning moved through the Jonesboro area.
A-State returns to the diamond Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium for a three-game conference series against South Alabama. First-pitch on Friday is set for 6 p.m.
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