San Marcos, TX (A-State) – The Arkansas State baseball squad hit three late home runs and was able to withstand a rally in the bottom of the ninth by Texas State in an 8-7 series-clinching victory Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Ballpark in San Marcos, Texas.
A-State (14-13, 4-5 SBC) found itself down 2-1 entering the seventh inning and Texas State (17-11, 6-3 SBC) turned to Anthony Pagano to keep the lead. However, after inducing a ground out, Pagano allowed Drew Tipton to single and walked Grant Hawkins to bring up Joe Schrimpf. The left-handed Pagano fell behind 2-0, and couldn’t be taken out after a mound visit preceded Schrimpf’s at-bat. Schrimpf made him pay with a three-run homer to left field to put A-State ahead 4-2. Jeremy Brown doubled home Garrett Rucker later in the inning to make the score 5-2.
The bats stayed hot in the eighth inning for the Red Wolves when Tipton hit a two-run bomb to left to make the score 7-2 and Hawkins followed with a solo round-tripper for back-to-back jacks for A-State. The Bobcats got one back in the bottom half of the inning when Jonathan Ortega left the yard with a solo shot.
The Red Wolves entered the bottom of the ninth with an 8-3 advantage and Tyler Zuber on the mound. However, Zuber allowed a single and a RBI double sandwiched around a fly out to make the score 8-4. A ground out put two outs on the board, but a RBI single made the score 8-5 and brought Travon Benton to the plate. Benton was able to pull a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a two-run home run that made the score 8-7. Derek Scheible singled to bring Ortega to the plate as the winning run, and the Texas State second baseman lined a pitch right to Hawkins at shortstop to end the game.
Zuber picked up the win after pitching the last four innings of the game. He only allowed one run through his first three innings, but allowed four in the ninth. His final line was five runs (all earned) allowed on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Starter Tyler Mitzel was impressive after allowing two runs (both earned) on three hits with two walks and five punch outs in five innings.
Rucker and Tipton each had three hits to lead the team with Schrimpf’s three RBI a team high for the game. A-State out hit the Bobcats 12-10 in the game, while five different players drove in runs.
Texas State starter Nicholas Fraze had a quality start with one run allowed (earned) on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts, but Pagano took the loss after allowing Schrimpf’s homer and only getting one batter out that he faced. Ortega and Luke Sherley led the Bobcats’ offense with two hits and both players also picked up a RBI.
Arkansas State returns to action Tuesday, April 4 with a midweek contest against regional rival Southeast Missouri. First pitch from Tomlinson Stadium is set for 6 p.m. A-State will travel to Cape Girardeau, Mo., the following day on Wednesday to play the Redhawks at 6 p.m.