Arkansas State baseball falls to Eastern Illinois in series opener
A ninth-inning rally by the Arkansas State team fell short with the tying run at the plate in an 11-8 loss to Eastern Illinois Friday at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field.
A-State (7-6) plated a pair of runs with less than two outs in the final frame, but back-to-back strikeouts stranded two runners in scoring position to end the contest. The Panthers (7-4) fanned 14 Red Wolves and surrendered just three walks.
Tyler Jeans fired a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings pitched, but Eastern Illinois scored six runs after his exit off four A-State relievers. Bryce Schares closed out the contest, striking out three and allowing one run on three hits in 2 1/3 innings.
The top three batters in the order – Wil French (3-5), Blake Burris (3-4) and Brandon Hager (3-5) – were responsible for nine of A-State’s 14 hits on the day, with French scoring three times and Hager driving in three runs.
Eastern Illinois tallied 13 hits, with five hitters accounting for two hits apiece, led by Ryan Ignoffo’s 2-for-4 day with two runs and three RBIs. Ignoffo also earned his second save of the year, tossing the final four innings.
Tyler Conklin (2-1) struck out six in five innings for EIU to earn the win, allowing six runs on 10 hits before giving way to Ignoffo, who fanned eight and allowed just one walk in the four-inning save.
The Panthers attacked first with pair of runs in the first inning on a single by Cole Gober, and then Ignoffo scampered home when Gober swiped second. Jeans went on to retire six in a row before Ignoffo launched a two-out solo homer over the left-field wall in the third to make it 3-0.
A-State answered with five runs on seven hits in the bottom of the third, sending 10 men to the plate and taking a 5-3 lead. Hager singled home John Hoskyn for the Red Wolves’ first run, followed by a two-run single up the middle by Kody Darcy to score Allen Grier and French. Hager then scored on a single up the middle by Cross Jumper, with Cason Campbell continuing the inning with a double off the left-field wall to plate Darcy.
The Panthers evened the score at 5-all with two runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Ben Gallaher, who came around to score on a double by Lucas Diluca. A-State would respond in the bottom half of the frame when Hager doubled home French to put the hosts back ahead by a run.
After Jeans departed following the fifth, Eastern Illinois plated four in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk, followed by an RBI single by Worchester and a two-run base knock by Ignoffo. The Panthers added a run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Lincoln Riley, then another in the eighth on an RBI double by Cade Zalewski to score Gober.
Pinch-hitter Kyler Carmack walked to lead off the ninth and later scored from third on an RBI single by Burris. Hager followed with an opposite-field single to plate French and move Burris to third, then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch with the tying run at the plate. Ignoffo worked out of the jam, striking out the next two batters to end the threat.
A-State squares off against Eastern Illinois in game two of the three-game series Saturday, with first pitch slated for 10 a.m. due to inclement weather forecasted for later in the day. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN+, while the radio broadcast can be heard on The Ticket Radio Network stations 95.3/96.9/970 AM in Jonesboro, as well as online at 953theticket.com.
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