JONESBORO, Ark. (4/22/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team built a 9-0 advantage in game one before holding on for a 12-10 win, but dropped the second game to South Alabama 12-2 to split a doubleheader Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium.
A-State (20-18, 8-9 SBC) began the scoring in game one with an Alex Howard RBI single in the second inning before a seven-run bottom of the third inning. Grant Hawkins doubled home the first two runs off South Alabama (24-16, 11-6 SBC) starter Thomas Huston in the frame before Justin Felix delivered the big blow with a three-run shot to left field. Huston exited and Howard tagged reliever Will Eiland for a two-run bomb to left field to make the score 8-0.
A sacrifice fly by Garrett Rucker extended the A-State lead to 9-0, but the Jaguars got to starter Bradey Welsh in the fifth inning for five runs, including a two-run home run by Brendan Donovan. Welsh was able to finish the inning and gave way to Tanner Kirby, who gave up a solo shot to Jared Barnes to cut into the A-State lead further at 9-6.
However, the Red Wolves struck back with runs on a Jeremy Brown single and Howard sacrifice fly to push the advantage to 11-6, which proved to be important as Colton Thomas ripped a three-run homer in the top of the seventh to make the score 11-9. The Red Wolves responded with a RBI single by Felix to make it 12-9.
Tyler Zuber came on to close out the game, but gave up a lead-off home run to Travis Swaggerty to make it 12-10. The next two batters singled to put runners at the corners before two strikeouts and a fly out to left field clinched the series opener for the Red Wolves. It was Zuber’s team-high fifth save of the year.
Welsh earned the win after lasting five innings with all five runs he gave up coming in the fifth inning. Kirby tossed three innings, but gave up four runs on four hits. USA’s Huston was charged with the loss after allowing seven runs (five earned) on four hits in 2.1 innings. South Alabama used five pitchers in the game.
Howard and Felix led A-State with four RBI each, while Hawkins drove in two runs on two hits. Wells Davis had three hits to lead the Jaguars. Both teams ended the game with 13 hits apiece.
Game two began with South Alabama taking its first lead of the day with a sacrifice fly by Donovan in the top of the first, but A-State responded with a solo homer by Felix to even the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second. However, the Jaguars added nine runs from the third through fifth innings to take control at 10-1. Donovan swatted a solo homer to down the left-field line in the fifth, before Barnes hit a three-run homer later in the inning.
The Jaguars added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make the score 12-1 before a Jake Bakamus sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth set the final at 12-2. Randy Bell went eight innings and only gave up one run on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts to earn the win for the Jaguars. Tyler Mitzel took the loss after allowing seven runs (three earned) in 4.2 innings.
Felix led A-State with one RBI, while Howard and Joe Schrimpf each had one hit. Donovan and Davis each had two hits with Davis driving in three runs to lead South Alabama offensively.
The series finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro with Peyton Culbertson set to face off with Tyler Carr.
For the latest on A-State baseball follow the team by logging onto the Arkansas State Baseball Facebook page or by following the team on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and Instagram (arkansasstatebaseball).