BOONE, N.C. (4/28/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team fell behind by three runs on two occasions and was able to battle back within one twice, but couldn’t get over the hump in a 7-6 loss to Appalachian State Friday night at Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium in Boone, N.C.
The Red Wolves (20-21, 8-11 SBC) opened the scoring with two unearned runs in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly by Justin Felix and RBI single from Jeremy Brown. However, the Mountaineers (18-24, 7-12 SBC) scored four runs in the bottom of the first off Bryan Ayers with the last three scoring on four consecutive two-out hits.
Bo Ritter relieved Ayers and allowed a run in the bottom of the second on a bases-loaded walk to give the Apps a 5-2 advantage. Arkansas State loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the fourth and was able to score one on a RBI ground out by Drew Tipton to make the score 5-3. Joe Schrimpf was hit by a pitch with the bases juiced a couple of batters later and put the tally at 5-4. App State went to the bullpen with two outs and reliever Dallas DeVrieze struck out Garrett Rucker.
The Mountaineers added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to push their edge to 7-4 before DeVrieze exited with one out in the top of the seventh in favor of Reed Howell. Felix greeted Howell with a big fly to left field to make the score 7-5, but the App State reliever got out of the rest of the inning unscathed.
A-State threatened in the top of the eighth with Jake Bakamus leading off with a base hit to right field. Derek Birginske pinch hit and connected on a 1-2 pitch that appeared destined to tie the game, but it fell a foot short and found the left fielder’s glove for the first out. Another fly out proved to be the second out, but back-to-back hits by Grant Hawkins and Schrimpf knocked in a run to make the score 7-6. However, Howell was able to come from behind a 3-1 count to strike out Rucker.
Matt Brill entered the game in the ninth for the Apps and got the first two outs fairly easily before walking Brown and hitting Bakamus to bring up Birginske. However, Brill was able to strike Birginske out to nail down his fourth save of the season.
Ayers was tagged with the loss, while DeVrieze earned the win with 2.2 shutout innings out of the bullpen for Appalachian State. Ritter tossed six innings out of the bullpen for the Red Wolves and allowed three runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts, just one shy of his career high.
Hawkins, Schrimpf, and Brown all had two hits apiece for the Red Wolves, while Schrimpf and Felix had two RBI each. Felix’s homer in the seventh inning was his team-high eighth on the year. Conner Leonard had four hits to lead Appalachian State, which finished with 15 hits in the game. Brian Bauk had two RBI for App State.
Arkansas State returns to action for game two of the three-game series with the Mountaineers Saturday in Boone, N.C. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. (CT).