BIRMINGHAM, AL (A-STATE) – The Arkansas State baseball team got two, four-RBI performances from Tanner Ring and Matt Burgess as the Red Wolves defeated UAB 14-5 in the 2016 season opener Friday at Regions Field in Birmingham, Ala.
The 14 runs are tied for the third most on opening day in school history and the win marks the first time in the Tommy Raffo era A-State has won a season opener on the road. The season-opening road win is the first time an Arkansas State team has started a season 1-0 on the road since an 8-6 win over Northeast Louisiana (now ULM) to begin the 1997 season.
A-State struck first in the game without recording a hit after Ty White and Joe Schrimpf led off the game with a hit-by-pitch and walk, respectively, with White scoring on a Ring RBI groundout to make it 1-0. Schrimpf scored during the next at-bat on a wild pitch for the Red Wolves to earn an early 2-0 advantage.
UAB (0-1) scored a run on an A-State error to make the tally 2-1 in the bottom of the second, but the visitors struck back in the top of the third. Schrimpf walked after the first two batters grounded out to begin the inning before Austin Baker delivered the team's first hit of the season to put runners on first and second. Ring stepped up to the plate and launched a monster home run to left field to set the score at 5-1.
The Red Wolves kept the pressure on in the top of the fourth when Jeremy Brown hit a two-run bomb to left field to plate Burgess, who reached earlier in the inning on an error, to put the score at 7-1. The Blazers loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with no outs against A-State starter Tyler Zuber, but Zuber induced a 6-4-3 double play that scored one UAB run. Esteban Tresgallo doubled to left-center field to plate another run as UAB inched to within 7-3.
The Blazers got within 7-4 on a double play ground out in the sixth inning, but the Red Wolves struck back with four runs in the top of the seventh. Three of those runs scored on a Burgess double down the left-field line before another run came in on a Blazers' error to put the score at 11-4. UAB scored one run in the bottom of the inning to make the A-State lead 11-5.
Burgess was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth to make the score 12-5 before Tony Ortiz drove in the first run of his career on a sacrifice fly and another scored on an error to set the final mark of 14-5.
Coulton Lee got the win out of the bullpen after working 2.1 innings in relief of Zuber and allowing two runs on three hits. Cody Jackson finished the game with 2.2 innings of shutout baseball as the senior from Hot Springs, Ark., allowed one hit and struck out three while walking none. Zuber went the first four innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with five walks and four strikeouts.
Eight of A-State's starting nine registered at least one hit with Garrett Rucker and Brown leading the way with two apiece. Rucker also scored two runs while Brown drove in two.
The Red Wolves and Blazers resume the season-opening, three-game set at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game can be heard locally on 95.3 FM The Ticket/970 AM KNEA and on AStateRedWolves.com.