NATCHITOCHES, La. (2/24/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team got four scoreless innings out of the bullpen from Tanner Kirby and Joe Schrimpf knocked in two runs as A-State held on for a 3-2 victory Friday night at Brown-Stroud Field in Natchitoches, La.
The game was tied 2-2 in the top of the fifth with two outs when Schrimpf stepped up to the plate and hit a hard ground ball that deflected off the glove of a diving Northwestern State (2-2) third baseman Matthew Alford into left field to score Derek Birginske, who led off the inning with a single, for a 3-2 edge. Justin Felix stepped up and laced a 3-2 pitch destined to be a double down the third-base line, but Alford made a diving snag and threw the A-State catcher out to prevent further damage.
Arkansas State (5-2) starter Bryan Ayers came out to pitch the fifth inning and struck out two hitters to run his strikeout count to nine. However, the Vilonia, Ark., native walked five batters in the contest and exited after the inning having thrown 120 pitches. He allowed two runs on seven hits.
Enter Kirby, who tossed the final four innings of the contest, to preserve the victory for Ayers, who moved to 2-0 on the season, and pick up his first save of the season. He allowed four hits, but struck out six and only walked two.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the junior reliever from Maumelle, Ark., as he had to strike out two batters with the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third base with one in the bottom of the seventh. Kirby found himself in trouble again in the eighth inning with the bases loaded for third and fourth hitters in the lineup, but he struck out David Fry, who homered earlier in the contest, on three pitches and got Regan Kaufman to ground out to short. He threw a perfect ninth to clinch the win for A-State.
Schrimpf and Birginske had two hits apiece as the Red Wolves tallied just five hits to the Demons’ 11. Felix had the other hit, a double in the fourth inning, to extend his hit streak to four games. Northwestern State had four players register two hits each. Nathan Jones took the loss for the home team as he allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
The Red Wolves struck in the top of the first when Grant Hawkins walked and advanced to third on a throwing error by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt to set up a Schrimpf sacrifice fly. A-State tacked on another run in the top of the third when Northwestern State’s right fielder couldn’t complete a running catch on a ball off the bat of Jake Bakamus that allowed Drew Tipton, who stole two bases after being hit by a pitch, to score the unearned run.
The Red Wolves and Demons are back at it against Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. first pitch at Brown-Stroud Field in Natchitoches, La. Due to the Red Wolves’ home women’s basketball game tomorrow, the baseball game can be heard on News Talk 101.3 FM and will stream on 1013kbtm.com.