A-State Baseball’s rally falls short against South Alabama
Arkansas State University's official logo (Source: www.astate.edu)
JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – The Arkansas State baseball team fell behind 12-1 early to South Alabama, but rallied to put the go-ahead run on first in the eighth inning before falling to the Jaguars 13-10 Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro.
The Red Wolves (12-16, 3-9 SBC) had Tanner Ring up at the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning down 12-10, but he hit a hard ground ball right at the third baseman for a 5-3 double play to end the threat. The Jaguars (21-10, 8-5 SBC) added a run in the top of the ninth on an RBI single to extend the lead to 13-10.
Collin Massanelli led off the ninth inning with a single, but the next two hitters struck out to give A-State just one final out to work with. South Alabama's Ben Taylor hit pinch-hitter Eric Wilcoxson to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of another pinch hitter, Ty Michelotti. However, Michelotti swung through a 1-2 pitch to strike out to end the contest and give USA a 13-10 SBC victory over the Red Wolves.
South Alabama starter Kevin Hill earned the win after tossing seven innings, but the senior gave up nine runs (seven earned) on 11 hits with one walk and six strikeouts after entering the game with a 0.69 ERA. Cody Van Aken got one out in relief before Taylor tossed the last 1.2 innings and gave up no runs on one hit with one walk and three strikeouts to earn his third save of the season. Offensively, USA had six players with multiple hits, led by Matt Bolger's three.
A-State starter Tyler Zuber suffered his worst start of the season as he lasted on 2.2 innings on the bump and gave up 10 runs (eight earned) on eight hits with five walks and two punch outs. Chandler Hawkins was able to preserve the bullpen and give the Red Wolves a chance as he tossed 5.2 innings of relief and gave up three runs (all earned) on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout. Offensively, A-State was paced by Ring, Stuart Levy, and Ty White, who all had three hits each, while Austin Baker hit his third home run of the year and drove in two runs.
South Alabama raced out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the second inning in a frame that featured five hits with an A-State error. The Jaguars plated three of the runs on hits, but also scored on a bases-loaded walk and RBI fielder's choice. The Red Wolves quickly responded with one run in the bottom of the inning when Levy knocked in Ring on an RBI double, but couldn't do any further damage.
The third inning began in similar fashion for South Alabama as the visitors had singles in three of the first four at-bats to add another run for a 6-1 edge. A passed ball and sacrifice fly scored two more and a two-out, two-run single set the A-State deficit at 10-1. USA added two more runs in the top of the fifth after a RBI double and RBI groundout to set the score at 12-1.
The Red Wolves began to mount their comeback in the bottom of the fifth after White and Levy both scored on an error to make the score 12-3. Baker followed later in the inning with his two-run homer to set the margin at 12-5 and the Red Wolves plated another run in the sixth inning on a check-swing double down the left-field line by White to cut the Jaguars' advantage in half at 12-6.
Arkansas State scored an unearned run in the seventh inning on a single by Ring before mounting its eighth-inning threat. A-State began the inning two singles and reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. Jeremy Brown plated a run with a sacrifice fly to deep center field to set the score at 12-8 with one out. Baker was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and Zach George walked on five pitches to bring A-State within 12-9. Taylor entered the game at that point and walked Matt Burgess to make the score 12-10, but induced the double play ball from Ring to escape the jam.
The Red Wolves return to action Saturday, April 4 in the second game of the three-game set against South Alabama. First pitch from Tomlinson Stadium is set for 6 p.m. For the latest on A-State baseball follow the team by logging onto the team's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/astatebaseball and following them on Twitter (@ASTATEBaseball).