Hawkins, top of the order help A-State Baseball avoid elimination
TROY, AL (ASU) – The eighth-seeded Arkansas State baseball team received a strong outing on the mound from Chandler Hawkins and saw its 1-3 hitters go 7-for-12 with five RBIs as the Red Wolves avoided elimination in the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Tournament with a 6-1 victory over Georgia Southern Thursday morning at Riddle-Pace Field in Troy, Ala.
Hawkins tossed a career-high 7.2 innings and tied his career high with 10 strikeouts as he allowed one run (earned) on five hits with just one walk. Tyler Zuber entered the game and registered the final four outs, two by strikeout, to clinch the victory for the Red Wolves (26-29) over the Eagles (30-27).
Offensively, A-State's top three hitters of Zach George, Joe Schrimpf, and Austin Baker paced the offense. George went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs, while Schrimpf was 1-for-2 with a RBI, two walks, and a sacrifice bunt. Baker also went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Lucas Feddersen was the lone hitter outside of the top three to drive in a run as he was 1-for-3 with a RBI double. Collin Massanelli registered two hits on the day, while Jeremy Brown scored two runs.
Georgia Southern's starter Tripp Sheppard only lasted three innings as he gave up five runs (all earned) on seven hits. The Eagles offense only registered five hits during the game after Hawkins retired the first 11 batters he faced.
The A-State offense started the game off strong after starter Hawkins sat the Eagles down in order in the top of the first when George doubled to left field to lead things off and was bunted over to third by Schrimpf. George scored on a Baker single to center field for an early 1-0 edge.
The Red Wolves didn't let up in the bottom of the second inning when Feddersen doubled home Massanelli, who led off the inning with a single, for a 2-0 lead. George smoked a single off the third baseman's glove to score Feddersen and Brown, who had walked earlier in the frame, for a 4-0 A-State advantage.
Brown led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left-center field and scored with two outs on a Schrimpf single to center field. Schrimpf advanced to second on the throw home and that proved to be a vital play as he was able to score on a Baker single to put the Red Wolves up 6-0. An error and hit by pitch loaded the bases with two outs, but Massanelli flew out to left to end the inning.
Hawkins ran his scoreless innings streak in the SBC Tournament to 13.2 innings before Dalton Busby plated Ryan Cleveland with a two-out single to center field in the top of the seventh inning to make the score 6-1. Cleveland doubled to right field with one out before striking out Hunter Thomas to get the second out of the inning. Hawkins wound up pitching into the eighth inning before Zuber had to finish the game.
The Red Wolves advance to play the loser of the Georgia State-South Alabama contest Friday in a 3 p.m. tilt at Riddle-Pace Field in Troy, Ala. That game will be featured on ESPN3. For the latest on the A-State baseball team, follow the squad on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and by liking the Arkansas State Baseball page on Facebook.