Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – A two-run single by Garrett Rucker in the bottom of the seventh inning broke a 3-3 tie and proved to be winning runs in a 8-3 victory for the Arkansas State baseball team over ULM as the Red Wolves were able to win two of three games against the Warhawks in the conference-opening series for both teams at Tomlinson Stadium.
A-State (11-8, 2-1 SBC) was able to load the bases against ULM (5-16, 1-2 SBC) starter Chase Beal with one out in the bottom of the seventh on a walk and two singles trailing 3-2. Grant Hawkins was able to drive in the tying run on a fielder’s choice before a four-pitch walk to Joe Schrimpf loaded the bases to set the scene for Rucker’s hit. Rucker hit a hard ground ball through the right side to score Hawkins and Alex Howard and give A-State a 5-3 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Red Woulves added three runs in the bottom of the eighth on a RBI single, balk, and error on a failed pickoff attempt to put the score at 8-3. Tyler Zuber worked around a couple of one-out walks and struck out the final two hitters of the game to preserve the win.
Tanner Kirby improved to 5-1 on the season as the Maumelle, Ark., native earned the win with three scoreless innings out of the bullpen in relief of Tyler Mitzel, who lasted five innings and gave up three runs on eight hits.
Rucker finished the day 2-for-4 with three RBI to lead the team. The Arkadelphia, Ark., native began the scoring for A-State in the bottom of the fourth when he hit a triple, his team-best fourth of the season, to score Schrimpf to cut the ULM edge to 3-1. He later came around on a RBI single by Jeremy Brown to make the score 3-2. Howard and Brown also added two hits apiece, while Howard scored two runs.
Beal took the loss for the Warhawks after giving up five runs (all earned) on seven hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Cade Stone, Chad Bell, and Spencer Hemphill led the visitors with two hits each.
ULM scored on a RBI double by Stone and sacrifice fly off the bat of Nathan Reynolds to go in front 2-0 in the second frame before adding a run on a single by Cade Harper in the top of the third to take a 3-0 advantage before A-State began its comeback.
The win for the Red Wolves clinched its first SBC-opening series win since 2014 when A-State swept UALR in Jonesboro.
Arkansas State returns to action Tuesday, March 21 in the first contest of a two-game, midweek set at Austin Peay. First pitch on Tuesday’s game is set for 6 p.m. from Raymond C. Hand Park in Clarksville, Tenn.