San Marcos, TX (A-State) – The eighth-seeded Arkansas State baseball team jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but couldn’t hold off the top seed and 17th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette in a 17-10 loss to end the team’s season at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in San Marcos, Texas.
The loss put A-State’s final season record at 29-29 and went over .500 last night for the first time since improving to 13-12 April 1 with a 7-6 win over ULL. Arkansas State went 9-4 over its final 13 games to get to 29-29. The two wins for the Red Wolves in the SBC Tournament also make A-State the only team in the league to win at least two games in the event each of the past seven seasons.
Every starter for the Red Wolves had at least one hit with Ty White and Jeremy Brown leading the way with three each. White had two RBI and scored two runs, while Garrett Rucker, Matt Burgess, and Tony Ortiz also had two RBI apiece. Coulton Lee took the loss on the mound after allowing four runs in one inning of work, but only one of the runs was earned. A-State used six different pitchers in the game.
Louisiana-Lafayette (40-19) was led by Kyle Clement, Nick Thurman, and Alex Pinero with three hits each, while Thurman and Pinero had five and four RBI, respectively. Jevin Huval earned the win for the Cajuns with Eric Carter picking up the save with four innings pitched to finish the game. Carter allowed one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
A-State began the game strongly when White led off with a single and came around to score when Joe Schrimpf tripled to center field off Louisiana-Lafayette starter Evan Guillory. Rucker was hit with a pitch before Tanner Ring doubled down the left-field line to score Schrimpf for a 2-0 Red Wolves’ edge. Burgess then singled Rucker and Ring home for a 4-0 advantage that chased Guillory from the game without an out being recorded.
Will Bacon entered for ULL and got a pop up from Brown for the first out of the inning before allowing a single to Jake Bakamus. Bacon struck out Daltan Lovell, but Ortiz ripped a two-run double off the wall in center field to make the score 6-0 in favor of Arkansas State. White came around to bat again but struck out to end the frame.
The Cajuns came roaring back in the top of the third with a RBI single off A-State starter Bo Ritter for their first run of the game. Ritter was lifted with runners on first and second and a 2-0 count on Kennon Fontenot for Tyler Zuber. Zuber walked Fontenot and gave up a three-run double to Thurman to put the tally at 6-4 and ULL scored one more in the inning on an Pinero RBI single to make the score 6-5.
The Red Wolves extended their edge to 7-5 when White singled home Lovell, who scored on a beautiful slide to avoid the tag. White stole second and Schrimpf lined a shot that knocked the pitcher’s glove off, but Louisiana’s Huval was able to recover and get the out at first.
Lee came out to begin the fourth inning and gave up a sacrifice fly to Steven Sensley to put the count at 7-6 in favor of A-State with two outs. Lee induced a ground ball, but a throwing error by Ring allowed the tying run to score. Thurman singled home two more runs to give the Ragin’ Cajuns their first lead of the day at 9-7 before a fly out ended the frame.
Louisiana-Lafayette extended its lead to 11-7 on a two-run triple by Stefan Trosclair in the top of the fifth and Brenn Conrad made it 12-7 on a sacrifice fly off of Bryan Ayers. Sensley put an exclamation mark on the frame with a solo shot to left-center field to make the score 13-7. However, Rucker got two runs back for Arkansas State with a two-run double in the bottom of the inning to put the mark at 13-9.
The Red Wolves clawed back within 13-10 when White beat out an infield single with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but Schrimpf struck out to end the threat. Louisiana-Lafayette scored two off of Adam Grantham in the top of the seventh when Pinero hit a soft line drive to right-center field to make the score 15-10.
The Cajuns scored two more in the top of the ninth inning off A-State reliever Zachary Patterson on a RBI single by Pinero and a ground out by Hunter Kasuls to put ULL in front 17-10. The Red Wolves went down in order in the bottom of the ninth with injured senior Austin Baker striking out in his final at bat at Arkansas State to end the contest.
Louisiana-Lafayette will play Georgia Southern tomorrow at 1 p.m. for the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.