SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (3/11/18) – The Arkansas State baseball team came from behind three times and held a 4-3 lead in the eighth, but dropped a 5-4 decision to Missouri State on a walk-off sacrifice fly Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo.
A-State (7-5) went ahead 4-3 in the sixth inning with a two-out, two-run triple over the center fielder’s outstretched glove off the bat of Grant Hawkins and took the lead into the eighth inning. However, Bo Ritter, who retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, made one mistake on a 2-0 pitch to Ben Whetstone, who sent it over the right-field fence to tie the game 4-4.
The Red Wolves loaded the bases in the top of the ninth and Jaylon Deshazier lined a pitch that appeared destined for a go-ahead single, but Missouri State (8-5) third baseman Matt Brown dove to his left to catch the line drive and then doubled Jeremy Brown off second to send the game to the bottom half.
Payton Lannon relieved Ritter and hit the first batter he faced before a throwing error on a pickoff attempt sent Jack Duffy to second. Duffy advanced to third on a ball that got past A-State catcher Cullen Ray with no outs and Brown lifted a pitch to medium center field to score Duffy on a walk-off sacrifice fly.
The Red Wolves out hit the Bears 9-5, but made two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs that proved to be the difference. Ray led Arkansas State with three hits, while Andrew Leggo made the first start of his career and went 2-for-3. Kyle MacDonald swatted his second home run of the year, while Peyton Culbertson lasted five innings on the mound and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with five strikeouts against three walks.
Missouri State starter Austin Knight tossed 5.1 innings and allowed four runs (all earned) on seven hits, while Jake Fromson induced the double play off the bat of Deshazier to pick up the win.
The Bears went ahead in the bottom of the first after a bloop double to lead off the inning led to a sacrifice fly. MacDonald led off the second with his monster home run to right-center field to tie the game at 1-1 before MSU regained the lead at 2-1 after Deshazier dropped a fly ball in left field.
Leggo scored on a wild pitch in the top of the fourth to knot the score once again, but Duffy doubled to right field in the bottom half to give Missouri State the lead again at 3-2. The Bears would hold that lead until the sixth inning when Hawkins tripled home two runs.
Arkansas State returns to action in a midweek contest next Tuesday night against Southern Illinois at Tomlinson Stadium. First pitch between the Red Wolves and Salukis is set for 6 p.m.
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).