STATESBORO, Ga. (5/12/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, but a four-run inning off the bullpen put Georgia Southern in front 7-4 as the Eagles held on to win by the same score Friday night at J.I. Clements Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.
Bo Ritter entered the game for A-State (22-25, 10-15 SBC) and allowed a single and walked the second hitter to find himself in a jam. Jordan Wren bunted and hustled down the line to make it a close play at first while Alex Howard’s throw got away to allow the tying run to score. An intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs as the Red Wolves turned to Tanner Kirby.
However, Kirby issued a walk to Cam Baker to give the Eagles (34-16, 16-9 SBC) a 5-4 advantage and then allowed a sacrifice fly and RBI single to allow the home team to push its edge to 7-4. Brandon Stuckenschneider entered and induced a 5-3 double play to get out of the inning. Arkansas State couldn’t get much going in the ensuing innings and lost the series opener 7-4.
Jacob Condra-Bogan registered the win for Georgia Southern with two scoreless innings out of the bullpen while Landon Hughes struck out the side in order in the top of the ninth for his eighth save. Starter Evan Challenger lasted 5.1 innings and allowed four runs (all earned) on eight hits.
Tyler Mitzel picked up his first quality start of the season with six solid innings. The Sioux Falls, S.D., native allowed three runs on nine hits with three walks and tied his career high with seven punch outs. Ritter took the loss to fall to 2-2 on the year.
Derek Birginske led the Red Wolves at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort, including his first career home run. The Russellville, Ark., native also tied his career high with three RBI and scored two runs. Grant Hawkins drove home a run, while Howard added two hits.
Tyler Marin led the Eagles with a 3-for-3 night at the plate with a pair of doubles and two walks. Mason McWhorter drove in two runs and had two hits as Georgia Southern out hit A-State 12-9.
The Red Wolves struck first in the game when Birginske swatted a home run to left-center field to bring home himself and Howard for a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. However, the Eagles responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning on a two-out double and single. The inning ended though when Brazil was thrown out at second trying to advance on the throw to the plate.
Georgia Southern would go on to tie the game in the bottom of the third on another two-out single by McWhorter. The Eagles appeared poised for a bigger inning after a walk loaded the bases and a 3-0 count on Logan Baldwin, but Garrett Rucker made a diving catch on a sinking line drive to keep the score 2-2.
A-State broke the tie in the fifth when Hawkins singled home Birginske, but the Eagles wasted little time responding with another two-out, run-scoring single by McWhorter to tie the game at 3-3. The Red Wolves quickly regained the lead in the sixth inning when Birginske brought home Howard on a sacrifice fly. Georgia Southern’s right fielder Wren made a fantastic sliding catch in foul territory, but Howard was able to beat the throw to the plate to make the score 4-3 in favor of A-State.
Game two of the series between the Red Wolves and Eagles will start at 5:30 p.m. (CT) in Statesboro, Ga.