CONWAY, AR (ASU) – The Arkansas State baseball team got RBI singles from Zach George and Joe Schrimpf in the top of the 13th inning to lift the Red Wolves to an 8-6 victory Tuesday night over Central Arkansas at Bear Stadium in Conway, Ark.
A-State (20-26) led off the top of the 13th with an infield single by Stuart Levy off UCA (23-19) reliever Brandon Hagerla. Ty Michelotti flew out to left and Lucas Feddersen bunted Levy to second with two outs to bring up George. Hagerla threw several pitches to George on the outer part of the plate before he hit a ground ball through the left side to score Levy for a 7-6 edge. George advanced to third on a muffed throw home and later scored when Schrimpf lined a single to left field for the 8-6 lead.
The Bears turned to Tyler Gray to get the final out of the inning and he got Austin Baker to fly out to center to send the game to the bottom of the 13th. Bo Ritter came back out for his third inning of work and got all three Central Arkansas hitters to ground out to Schrimpf at second base, including a diving stop on the third out, to end the game as the freshman from Hot Springs, Ark., earned his first collegiate win. Hagerla took the loss for UCA.
Ritter only gave up one hit in three innings of work, but that hit was erased by a double play as he faced the minimum nine hitters over those three frames. He didn't walk a batter and struck out one. Starter Derek Birginske registered a quality start as he tied a career high with seven innings pitched as he gave up five runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Chandler Hawkins also tossed 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen with three strikeouts.
Offensively, the Red Wolves were led by Baker and Schrimpf, who each had three hits, while Baker drove in a team-high four runs. George reached base four times to extend his on-base streak to 63 game and stole his eighth base, which is the second most on the team. UCA's Welsey Hoover, Charles Deckard, and Ty Tice each had two hits, while Travis Hull drove in three runs.
A-State and UCA both scored runs in the second inning with the Red Wolves grabbing a short-lived 1-0 advantage on a double play ground out by Levy that plated Tanner Ring, who had reached on an error earlier in the inning. The Bears struck back quickly with a run by Brad Dillenberger on a passed ball to tie the game at 1-1 on unearned runs.
The Red Wolves quickly regained the edge in the top of the third when Baker ripped a double to the left-center field gap to score to George and Schrimpf for a 3-1 advantage. However, UCA got back within one run at 3-2 in the bottom half of the inning when Hoover scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Hull.
A-State added another run when George scored on a passed ball in the top of the fifth inning, but once again the Bears were able to respond in the bottom half. The Bears made the score 4-3 on a sacrifice fly by Chris Townsend that plated Logan Preston.
Arkansas State appeared poised to break the game open in the top of the seventh when the visitors loaded the bases with one out. However, Baker walked to get one run in, but a strikeout and fly out to center field ended the threat. Central Arkansas took advantage and tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Hull singled up the middle to score Hoover and Townsend to tie the game at 5-5.
UCA took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning when Deckard scored on a RBI ground out to second base. Deckard singled to lead off the frame and stole second before being sacrifice-bunted to third. He scored when A-State's second baseman, Schrimpf, bobbled the ball and had to get the out at first.
George began the top of the ninth with a ground ball to short, but a throwing error allowed him to reach base. He was bunted over to second and scored on a Baker base hit to left field to tie the contest at 6-6. Baker later advanced to third base with two outs on a balk, but pinch-hitter Daltan Lovell grounded out to shortstop to end the inning. UCA got a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, but nothing else to send the game to extra innings.
The two teams played three scoreless extra innings before A-State's breakthrough in the top of the 13th. The 13-inning game tied for the longest the Red Wolves have played this season along with a 13-inning affair at Georgia Southern March 20, a game A-State won 3-1.
Arkansas State returns to action in a pivotal Sun Belt Conference series May 8-10 at Texas State. First pitch for Friday's game 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).