Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – Neil Lambert’s fielder’s choice in the bottom of the ninth gave Arkansas State a 5-4 victory over Louisiana-Monroe and gave the Red Wolves their first Sun Belt Conference series sweep of the season Sunday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.
Joe Schrimpf led off the inning with a triple into left-centerfield off ULM closer Anthony Herrera to put the winning run 90-feet away. After a pair of intentional walks to load the bases, Lambert was called upon to pinch-hit and hit a ball that chopped over Herrera’s head and Schrimpf scored to send the Red Wolves to the first series sweep since May of 2015.
Arkansas State (18-21, 8-13 SBC) trailed 4-3 after the top of the sixth inning, but Jeremy Brown put Arkansas State back in front with a punch-hit, 2-run triple in the bottom half of the inning off Keller Bradford who had relieved the ULM starter to start the inning. Bradford issued a walk to Matt Burgess and then hit Jake Bakamus to put the go-ahead run on the base paths. Brown, who was pinch hitting for Daltan Lovell, drove a ball into deep left-centerfield that hit off the glove of Nathan Pugh and allowed both runs to score to put A-State up 4-3.
The Warhawks (15-25, 6-12) answered in the eighth inning when Tanner Ring entered the game for Tanner Kirby with one out and gave up the tying run on a perfectly placed by Cody Stone that allowed Pugh to score. Pugh, who was on first base when Ring entered the game, advanced to third on back-to-back passed balls to move him into scoring position.
A-State struck first in the third inning when Lovell led of the inning with a single and later scored on an RBI groundout by Ty White. Garrett Rucker drove in his fourth run of the series one batter later with an a single to left field that allowed Tony Ortiz to score from second after he reached on error by the ULM pitcher on sacrifice bunt attempt.
Adam Grantham was effect through 3.1 innings but ran into trouble in the fourth inning when he issued a leadoff walk and infield single to put the tying run on base. He gave way to Tyler Zuber who induced back-to-back groundout to end the Warhawks’ scoring threat.
Zuber struggled in his first full inning of work, however, and issued a lead off walk to Josh Faciane in the fifth. Faciane scored on an RBI groundout by Spencer Hemphill to close the gap to 2-1. ULM tied the game when Zuber threw a wild pitch in the dirt that allowed Cade Stone to score.
ULM took its first lead of the day in the sixth inning when Zuber issued back-to-back hits to put runners on the corners. Tanner Kirby entered the game in relief of Zuber and gave a run on a safety squeeze, but limited the damage to just a run to keep A-State within striking distance at 3-2.
The Red Wolves return home for a mid-week contest against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday, April 24 at Tomlinson Stadium. First-pitch is set for 6 p.m.