JONESBORO, Ark. (5/5/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning, but couldn't hold back the No. 23 UT Arlington offense in an 11-7 loss to the Mavericks to open a three-game set Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium.
UTA (27-18, 17-5 SBC) opened the game with three straight hits off A-State (22-22, 10-12 SBC) starter Bryan Ayers and eventually scored three runs in the frame, but the Red Wolves' offense put up a five-spot in the bottom of the first. Justin Felix brought home the first run with a RBI ground out, but the ground ball was the second out of the frame. However, the two-out rally began with a RBI single by Jeremy Brown before a run scoring double by Alex Howard tied the game 3-3. Drew Tipton and Derek Birginske singled home the final two runs before a fly out ended the inning.
However, the Mavericks loaded the bases in the top of the second with one out on a single and two walks to chase Ayers from the game. Bo Ritter entered the game, but allowed a two-run double, RBI ground out, and RBI single to push the score to 7-5 in favor of UTA. The score remained the same until the top half of the fifth frame when a trio of RBI singles by UT Arlington put the score at 10-5.
The Red Wolves responded in the bottom of the fifth with another RBI single by Birginske before Joe Schrimpf drove home a run with a fielder's choice the Mavericks failed to get an out on to make the score 10-7. The RBI for Schrimpf was the 139th of his career, which ties Todd Baumgartner's school record. Arkansas State couldn't get any closer though after a strikeout and fly out ended the threat.
A bases-loaded walk for UTA pushed the score to 11-7 in the top of the eighth. A-State was able to threaten in the bottom of the ninth by bringing the tying run to the plate with one out. Howard walked to begin the frame before a sliding catch in left field by Quintin Rohrbaugh robbed Jake Bakamus of a hit. However UT Arlington's Austin Gardner allowed a hit to pinch-hitter Tobias Johnson and hit another pinch hitter, J.D. Rainwater, to load the bases.
The Mavericks turned to closer Daniel James and he shut the door on A-State's threat by striking out Grant Hawkins and Schrimpf for his 12th save, which is the most in the Sun Belt Conference. UTA starter Kadon Simmons was chased from the game in the top of the first so reliever Brad Vassar was the winner for the visitors with 3.1 innings out of the bullpen in relief of Simmons.
Ayers was tagged with the loss for A-State after giving up six runs (all earned) in 1.1 innings of work. Ritter pitched 5.2 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Brandon Stuckenschneider pitched two scoreless frames out of the bullpen.
Omar Salinas was the offensive star for UT Arlington with a 4-for-5 effort and three RBI. Will Olson also drove home two runs for the Mavericks, who totaled 14 hits on the night. Tipton led A-State with three hits, while Birginske drove in a team-best two runs. Howard's RBI double extended his hit streak to 12 games, which is the longest by an A-State player this year.
Arkansas State returns to action with the second game of the series against UT Arlington Saturday, May 6. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Tomorrow's first pitch will be thrown out by former Major League Baseball player and Bay, Ark., native Wally Moon. Fans will also have a chance to obtain autographs from Mr. Moon.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).