JONESBORO, Ark. (4/1/16) – The Arkansas State baseball team built a 7-0 lead and held off No. 27 Louisiana-Lafayette for a 7-6 victory in the Sun Belt series opener against the Ragin’ Cajuns Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium/Kell Field.
Tanner Ring, who went 1-for-4 with a RBI and run scored, pitched the final two innings to earn his third save of the season. He entered in the top of the eighth after the Ragin’ Cajuns had scored six runs in the previous two innings and allowed only one hit and a walk while facing eight hitters.
Louisiana-Lafayette (16-10, 6-4 SBC) got within inches of tying the game in the ninth, but leftfielder Tony Ortiz made a leaping catch at the wall for the first out of the inning to preserve the lead before Ring sandwiched a strikeout and a groundout around a two-out single to put A-State (13-12, 4-6 SBC) in the win column.
Tyler Zuber (3-2) picked up the win allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 5.1 innings of work. Gunner Leger (3-2) took the loss for Louisiana, allowing five runs, all earned, on five hits in four innings.
A two-out rally by the Red Wolves in the third opened the scoring as A-State grabbed a 4-0 lead. Ty White was plunked with one out and Jeremy Brown followed with a single to put two on with one out. After a lineout nearly resulted in an inning-ending double play, Ring hit a two-out single up the middle to drive in White. Matt Burgess followed and turned on the first pitch for his third home run in as many games to clear the bases and put A-State up 4-0.
The Red Wolves added another tally in the fifth, but failed to capitalize on a second-straight big inning. A leadoff walk to Tony Ortiz got the line moving for A-State and Frankie Alvarez moved Ortiz to scoring position with a well-placed sacrifice bunt. Tim Seldomridge took the second walk of the inning to put two on with one out and White delivered a RBI single to increase the lead to 5-0. Leger pitched out of the jam via a strikeout and groundout.
A-State expanded the lead with a two-run fifth to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns 7-0. A one out walk to Burgess came back to hurt Louisiana (16-10, 6-4 SBC) as Joe Schrimpf tripled off the top of the wall in left-centerfield to make it 6-0. Ortiz was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners with one out and Alvarez executed the safety-squeeze play to make it a 7-0 lead for the Red Wolves.
After seeing the leadoff man reach in three of the first five innings, Louisiana cashed in on a leadoff walk in the sixth. The Ragin’ Cajuns posted five runs on five hits and an A-State error to cut the Red Wolves lead to 7-5. Louisiana had the bases loaded twice in the inning, but Cody Jackson came on in relief and got a force out at third to hold the two run advantage.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added on run in the seventh and put the potential tying run on 90 feet away with two outs. Louisiana again used the leadoff man to create scoring opportunities, this time via a leadoff single. A groundout moved the runner to scoring position and a single to right field cut the Red Wolves lead to one, 7-6. The Ragin’ Cajuns put runners on the corners with two out, but Jackson painted the outside corner for a called strike three to end the threat.
A-State looks for the series win Saturday at 4 p.m. against the Ragin’ Cajuns at Tomlinson Stadium/Kell Field. The game will air live on ESPN3.