JONESBORO, Ark. (3/10/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team bounced back from a game one loss to defeat No. 24 Louisiana Tech 6-5 in the second game of a Friday doubleheader at Tomlinson Stadium.
A-State (9-6) was able to come back from behind twice in game two after falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning on a two-run double by Marshall Boggs with another run coming around on an error in left field. The Red Wolves knocked Louisiana Tech (13-2) starter Cameron Linck out in the bottom of the third after Grant Hawkins walked, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs turned to Austin Harrison and he allowed a RBI single by Joe Schrimpf, sacrifice fly by Justin Felix, and run-scoring single to Garrett Rucker to tie the contest 3-3. However, Louisiana Tech regained the lead 4-3 on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth. A-State responded in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off homer by Felix to tie the game 4-4. Later in the inning Louisiana Tech reliever Graham Ahlrich came in to pitch and gave up the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
The 5-4 lead was short-lived however after Diaz singled home the tying run off Tanner Kirby in the top of the seventh. Ahlrich came out to start the bottom of the seventh and allowed a single to Jeremy Brown and he advanced to third on a passed ball and wild pitch before Schrimpf was hit by a pitch. Felix grounded into a double play to score what would prove to be the winning run as A-State went ahead 6-5.
Tyler Zuber pitched the final two innings, but ran into trouble in the ninth when he walked pinch-hitter Parker Bates to begin the inning. Bates advanced to second on a passed ball and then to third with one out on a sacrifice bunt. However, the White Hall, Ark., native struck out Jordan Washam for the second out, but he walked Chance Lunceford to put runners on the corners to bring up Diaz, who entered the game hitting .404 and already had two RBI. Zuber threw a first-pitch strike before inducing a weak ground out to clinch the 6-5 win for the Red Wolves.
Kirby picked up the win on the mound to improve to 3-0 on the year, while Zuber earned his third save of the season. Ahlrich fell to 1-1 on the year with the loss. A-State starter Peyton Culbertson allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits with five punch outs and two walks.
Rucker and Felix led A-State with two hits apiece, while Felix drove in two runs. Washam had three hits and scored three runs for the Bulldogs. The win for Arkansas State was the first over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 6 Ole Miss 8-6 at home on May 17, 2016. It was also the Bulldogs' first loss on a weekend this season.
The first game of the set didn't go as well for the Red Wolves as the home team dropped a 19-3 decision to the Bulldogs. Rucker put A-State on top in the bottom of the first with his second homer of the year, a solo shot to right field. Louisiana Tech took control with seven runs in the third and fourth innings. The Bulldogs had homers from Diaz and Lunceford in the third after an error started the inning. A pair of RBI doubles highlighted the fourth inning for the visitors.
Louisiana Tech pushed the lead to 13-1 with a six-run sixth inning, but A-State scored runs on a RBI triple by Hawkins and sacrifice fly by Jake Bakamus to cut the deficit to 13-3. The Bulldogs scored six runs the rest of the way, including a grand slam by Boggs, to set the final at 19-3.
Boggs also slugged a three-run homer in the contest to give him seven RBI in the game. Washam had four hits for the Bulldogs and scored three runs, while Diaz has three hits and four RBI. Alex Howard led the Red Wolves with two hits, including his fifth double of the season.
Bryan Ayers took the loss for A-State after allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in four innings with five strikeouts against two walks. Kent Hasler ran his record to 3-0 on the year for Louisiana Tech after going six innings and allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Casey Sullivan earned his first save of the year by throwing three scoreless innings to finish the game.
Arkansas State and the Bulldogs will attempt to play the series finale Saturday at 6 p.m. The forecast isn't looking good and the game could be moved to a different time tomorrow or to Sunday. Check with AStateRedWolves.com for the latest schedule updates concerning A-State baseball.