JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – The Arkansas State baseball used 14 hits and five early runs to take control in an 11-5 nonconference win over Murray State Tuesday night at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro.
A-State (16-22) got on the board early in the game on a RBI double by Jeremy Brown and RBI single by Ty White in the second inning. Both runs came with two outs as the Red Wolves took a 2-0 edge over the Racers (14-28) into the third inning. Murray State added a run in the top of the third on a Tyler Lawrence fielder's choice with the bases loaded to cut A-State's edge to 2-1.
The Red Wolves quickly added to its lead in the third inning when Austin Baker singled home Matt Burgess, who had doubled earlier in the inning, for a 3-1 advantage. Tanner Ring stretched the lead to 4-1 by knocking in Baker a batter later. A-State gained another run in the fourth inning when Zach George singled up the middle to score Lucas Feddersen with two outs to increase the home team's lead to 5-1.
Pitching took over in the middle of the contest as neither team gave up a run in the fifth, sixth, or seventh innings. A-State held the Racers scoreless in the top of the eighth, but put the game out of reach with a big bottom half of the inning. Baker led off the inning with a double to left and Stuart Levy was hit by a pitch to give Arkansas State runners on first and second. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Baker scored on an errant throw by the catcher to start the scoring.
Another hit-by-pitch and walk loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Collin Massanelli and he hit an infield single to shortstop to add another run that increased A-State's edge to 7-1. White hit a bouncing ball that took a bad hop on the second baseman in the next at-bat and plated two more runs to put the lead at 9-1. George knocked the tenth run in with a double and Burgess hit an RBI ground out to second to cap A-State's scoring.
Things got a little interesting in the top of the ninth despite the Red Wolves holding an 11-1 advantage. The Racers loaded the bases with two outs after two walks and an infield hit off reliever Cody Jackson. Jackson walked Pokey Harris to make the score 11-2 and keep the bases loaded. Anthony Bayus stepped up to the plate and cleared the bases with a double down the right-field line, but excellent cut-off execution by the Red Wolves resulted in a 9-3-5 putout at third base to end the game at 11-5 as Bayus tried to stretch the double into a triple.
Derek Birginske threw the first four innings for the Red Wolves and earned his first win of the season after giving up one earned run on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Tanner Kirby tossed a scoreless inning out of the bullpen, while Coulton Lee looked really sharp as the sophomore lefty went three innings without allowing a run on one hit with no walks and two strikeouts. John Lollar took the loss for the Racers after pitching three innings and giving up four runs (all earned) on seven hits with no strikeouts and two walks.
Offensively, White and Baker each had three hits, while White knocked in three runs and Baker had one RBI. George extended his on-base streak to 55 games with two hits and had two RBIs, while seven of A-State's starting nine had hits on the evening.
The Red Wolves return to action Friday, April 24 for the opener of a three-game set with Sun Belt Conference foe Appalachian State. First pitch from Tomlinson Stadium is scheduled 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).