BIRMINGHAM, AL (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State baseball team dropped the first game of a doubleheader Saturday to UAB 5-0, but defeated the Blazers 5-2 in the second game to earn a season-opening series win at Regions Field in Birmingham, Ala.
In game two, UAB (1-2) scored a single run in each of the first two innings for a 2-0 edge before A-State (2-1) struck back with two runs in the top of the third. Jeremy Brown was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Ty White singled to center to put the first two runners on. Joe Schrimpf sacrificed the runners up a base before Austin Baker was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Tanner Ring drove home the first run with a hard single through the left side before Garrett Rucker brought home the second run on a sacrifice fly to center field.
The game remained tied 2-2 until the top of the ninth inning when A-State mounted a two-out rally that scored three runs on only one hit. Jake Bakamus was hit by a pitch and Frankie Alvarez also got hit by a pitch before Dylan Munger came to the mound for UAB. Munger walked Brown to load the bases and then White brought home the winning run with an infield single to the second baseman. A-State picked up two more runs on a wild pitch and error by the catcher on the play to make the score 5-2.
Ring entered the game on the mound in relief of J.D. Miller and walked the first batter he faced, but induced a double play and struck out the next hitter for the save in his first action on the mound since 2014. Miller picked up the win after tossing 1.2 scoreless innings.
A-State starter Bryan Ayers tossed six innings in his first appearance on the mound since the 2014 season. Ayers allowed two runs (one earned) on 10 hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Collin Nord pitched to one hitter and struck him out on three pitches. UAB’s starter Adam Lamar lasted 2.2 innings while Austin Thomas tossed six innings out of the bullpen for the Blazers but took the loss.
White led the team with two hits, while Baker and Ring had the other two hits for the Red Wolves. Griffin Gum led UAB with three hits.
UAB began game one strongly by registering a run in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly off A-State starter Adam Grantham. The first two batters of the game reached on infield singles before a fly ball to deep left moved both runners up a base to set up the sacrifice fly.
The Blazers extended the lead to 3-0 after hitting three consecutive doubles in the bottom of the fourth inning and tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth on a Carter Pharis home run to take a 4-0 lead. UAB added another run on an error in the seventh inning and A-State couldn’t muster any offense as the Red Wolves lost 5-0.
Grantham was solid on the mound as the senior allowed seven hits and gave up four runs (all earned) with seven strikeouts with no walks. Freshmen Bradey Welsh and Peyton Culbertson each pitched an inning to close out the contest with Welsh giving up one unearned run.
White doubled to lead off the game for one of A-State’s three hits. Brown and Matt Burgess each had singles for the other two hits of the game.
UAB’s Ryan Ruggles earned the win by throwing six shutout innings, while Thomas Lowery picked up the save by tossing three scoreless innings to end the game. Gum and Carter Pharis each had two hits and two RBIs with Pharis hitting the Blazers’ first home run of the season.
Arkansas State returns to action Tuesday, Feb. 23 against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. First pitch from Oxford University Stadium/Swayze Field is scheduled for 4 p.m.