Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – The Arkansas State baseball team picked up a pair of wins (11-5, 5-2) in a doubleheader sweep Saturday against the New York Institute of Technology and improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2014 and only the eighth time in school history.
A-State added a run in each of the second and third innings of game one on a RBI double by Alex Howard and RBI single by Justin Felix. However, the Bears (0-3) struck for five runs in the top of the fourth inning, with four of the five being charged to Tyler Mitzel. Mitzel lasted 3.2 innings in his first start and cruised to 3.1 before running into trouble. He walked four in the inning and gave way to Bo Ritter, who allowed a three-run double to Benjamin McNeil for the big blow.
The Red Wolves began the comeback with a two-run single by Jeremy Brown and another run-scoring single by Felix to tie the game in the fifth. The team posted a four-run sixth inning with a sacrifice fly from Joe Schrimpf representing the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Felix cleared the bases with a double to blow the game open and put A-State on top 9-5. The Red Wolves added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to make the final score 11-5.
Zachary Patterson picked up the victory on the mound with four strong innings out of the bullpen. The Cabot, Ark., native struck out five, didn’t walk a batter, and only allowed two hits. Redshirt freshman Brandon Stuckenschneider tossed a perfect ninth in his collegiate debut.
Jake Bakamus led the offense with four hits, three runs scored, a stolen base, and one RBI, while Felix provided a 3-for-4 effort with five RBI. Grant Hawkins went 2-for-4 and scored three runs, while Cullen Ray had a pinch-hit single in his first collegiate at-bat and Drew Tipton stole a base.
David Masuck took the loss for the Bears after allowing the four runs in the sixth inning after starter Elias Martinez lasted five innings. NYIT only collected four hits in the game compared to 16 for Arkansas State.
The second game didn’t feature as much offense for either team as both squads ended the game with just three hits. The Red Wolves used a four-run bottom of the second inning to control the game. NYIT starter Matt Diaz loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a hit-by-pitch before Bakamus lined a single to right field to plate two runs. The next two runs came around when Schrimpf doubled off the base of the left-field wall.
The four runs proved to be enough for the pitching combination of Peyton Culbertson and Tyler Zuber. Culbertson allowed two runs (one earned) in the third inning as NYIT cut the A-State lead in half at 4-2. The Red Wolves added another run in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Brown to put the score at 5-2 in favor of the home team.
That was more than enough run support for Zuber, who tossed four shutout innings with only one hit allowed and eight strikeouts against two walks. The White Hall, Ark., native earned the save for his efforts as Culbertson picked up the win after being limited to a pitch count determined before the game. The Collierville, Tenn., native lasted three innings and gave up two hits with two walks and three punch outs.
Bakamus, Schrimpf, and Brown provided all the offense in game two with one hit each with the first two knocking in two runs and Brown driving in one. Hawkins scored two runs, while Garrett Rucker stole two bases to improve to a perfect 4-for-4 on the year. Freshman catcher Austin Powell made his collegiate debut and walked once with a run scored.
The Bears and Red Wolves conclude the season-opening four-game set Sunday morning at Tomlinson Stadium. First pitch was moved to 10 a.m. a few weeks ago to accommodate NYIT’s travel plans.