SAN MARCOS, Texas (5/26/16) – The Arkansas State baseball team overcame a 12-4 deficit and a weather delay of two hours and 50 minutes to defeat Troy 13-12 in an elimination game that saw both teams tie the Sun Belt Conference Tournament record of combined hits with 37 Thursday at Bobcat Ballpark in San Marcos, Texas.
The Red Wolves (28-28) trailed Troy 12-10 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, but the team loaded the bases with no outs against Troy (32-26) reliever Marc Skinner with a double by Tony Ortiz, walk by Ty White, and hit-by-pitch to Joe Schrimpf. Garrett Rucker hit a hard ground ball up-the-middle that looked destined to be a double play, but it was booted by Troy’s shortstop Matt Sanders and allowed Ortiz and White to score to tie the game 12-12. Tanner Ring came to the plate and hit a soft line drive to left field that scored Schrimpf and gave A-State the 13-12 victory.
The eight-run deficit is the largest the team has overcome this season and A-State collected 19 hits during the game to tie its season high. All nine starters for the Red Wolves picked up a hit in the game with White leading the way with four, including two triples that tied the school record with three other players for most triples in a single game. The last time it happened was in 1970 when Pete Davis tripled twice against Alabama. The two triples by White also gave the team 20 for the season, which ties the 1949 squad for the most in school history. The senior from Gladstone, Mo., also scored four runs to tie the team’s season high and had a RBI.
Matt Burgess registered three hits, including a monster home run in the eighth inning, and drove in two runs, while also scoring two. Ortiz had a fantastic day at the dish with three hits, including his first-career home run, two RBI, and two runs scored. Rucker was 3-for-4 at the plate with a team-best three RBI, two runs scored, and two walks. Ring and Jeremy Brown had two RBI apiece for Arkansas State.
Bryan Ayers picked up the win on the mound for the Red Wolves with 4.1 innings out of the bullpen, including retiring the last 12 batters he faced in a row. He allowed two runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Peyton Culbertson started and lasted 1.2 innings and gave up five runs (all earned) on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Adam Grantham tossed three innings in relief and gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits.
Skinner took the loss for the Trojans after allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits in two innings of work. Starter Lucas Brown lasted six innings and gave up eight runs (all earned) on 14 hits with three walks and two punch outs. Troy was led by Justin Friend’s 4-for-5 performance with four RBI and a home run at the plate. Chase Smartt also recorded four hits, while Joey Denison had three hits, including a home run, and three RBI.
The Red Wolves allowed a first-inning run to the Trojans when Matt Sanders homered to left field, but A-State responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning for a 2-1 edge. White tripled to lead off the inning and came around to score on a Rucker double, while Rucker scored on a Burgess single.
A downpour hit San Marcos with one out in the top of the second to cause the long weather delay, but the Trojans scored four runs to take a 5-2 advantage after play resumed. White singled home Daltan Lovell in the bottom of the inning to get the score to 5-3, but Ring struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Friend hit a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning and the Trojans added another run later in the frame for an 8-3 lead. The Red Wolves scored one run in the bottom of the inning on a Ring single, but Burgess struck out with runners on second and third to end the threat.
The Trojans kept hitting into the fifth inning and scored four runs with all the action coming with two outs. Grantham allowed a double and run-scoring single before he was lifted for Ayers. Ayers immediately served up a two-run homer to Denison before a walk and another run-scoring single put the fourth run of the inning on the board for Troy. A-State got out of the inning when Ortiz gunned a runner out at the plate trying to score from second two singles later.
The comeback began in the bottom of the fifth inning when Ortiz smacked his two-run homer to right-center field to cut the deficit to 12-6. A-State put another two-spot up in the sixth inning on a two-run double from Brown to make the count 12-8 before an infield single by Rucker in the seventh inning trimmed the Trojans’ lead to 12-9. Burgess left the yard with a solo shot to make the score 12-10 in the bottom of the eighth to set the stage for the three-run ninth inning for Arkansas State.
Troy is now eliminated, while the Red Wolves advance to play another elimination game tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. against the loser of the Texas State/Louisiana-Lafayette game set to take place later tonight. Tomorrow’s game can be watched on ESPN3.