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A-State fell to 8-8 on the season and 0-3 in Sun Belt Conference play with three losses to Coastal Carolina.
The Red Wolves and Chanticleers played a 3-1 contest on Friday, but flipped the script in a wild 26-14 game Saturday night. The contest featured 32 hits and 30 walks, with the 30 walks tying for the second most in NCAA Division I history.
A-State fell in the series finale 8-3 Sunday to get swept to mark the first time the team has been swept in its SBC-opening series since 2004 when the Red Wolves were swept by New Orleans.
Nate Alberius recorded his fourth straight quality start to open his A-State career March 13 against Southern Illinois, but left the game without a decision. The Red Wolves now have nine quality starts this season after having only 10 a season ago.
Bryan Ayers picked up his first victory of the season after throwing the final three innings of the win over SIU. He allowed a home run, but recorded the next nine outs in order.
A-State vs. Missouri In-Depth Series History
A-State trails the all-time series with the Tigers by a count of 20-7 in a series that saw the first meetings back during the 1958 season. Mizzou won the first contest 13-0, but Arkansas State bounced back to win the second game 3-2. A-State dropped a 12-1 decision in 1959, but the two teams didn’t play again until 1962 when the Tigers swept the two games.
The series took a long hiatus, but the 1993 season saw the first three-game series between the two schools with A-State taking two-of-three. The Red Wolves won the first and third games by scores of 1-0 and 5-4 around a 12-1 loss in game two. A-State returned the trip to Columbia, Mo., the following season and was swept by the Tigers, including a 7-6 loss in 10 innings to conclude the series. Missouri made the trip to Jonesboro again in 1996 for a three-game set and won two-of-three before winning both games in Columbia in 1997.
Missouri won two-of-three in Jonesboro in 1998 and followed with two wins in each of the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Mizzou extended its winning streak in the series to six with an 8-3 win in the first game of the 2002 season, but A-State snapped the skid with a 15-10 win in game two.
Since 2002 the two teams have only played twice with both meetings coming in 2013 under Tommy Raffo. A-State dropped the first game 5-1 before bouncing back to win game two 10-3 in the second game of a doubleheader.
Missouri enters the midweek games with a record of 15-5, but dropped two-of-three at LSU to begin Southeastern Conference play. Arkansas State is the only Sun Belt school on their schedule. The Tigers are ranked 25th in the latest Collegiate Baseball Poll.
Notes from Coastal Carolina Series
A-State is now 0-6 all-time against Coastal Carolina after being swept by the Chanticleers March 16-18 in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves faced Coastal for the first time last season after the team moved to the Sun Belt Conference and was swept in Conway, S.C.
The Red Wolves dropped the March 16 game 3-1 after allowing two unearned runs that proved to be the difference. All four runs for both teams scored in the third inning. The three runs for CCU came on a sacrifice fly that was dropped for an error and then a passed ball and wild pitch. A-State scored in the bottom half on a bases-loaded walk.
Bo Ritter tossed a season-high four innings in the Friday game and tied his season-high with five strikeouts as he didn’t allow a run.
The March 17 game was a wild one with the Chants winning 26-14 over the Red Wolves. The game featured 30 walks between both teams to tie for the second most in a game in NCAA Division I history. The last time it had been done was Feb. 22, 1995 in a game between Rice and Texas Southern. The 18 walks by A-State pitching broke the school record of 16, set three different times, and Coastal Carolina’s 12 walks tied its school record.
The 40 combined runs were the second most in a game involving the Red Wolves with the most being 41 in a 28-13 win over Memphis to end the 1992 season.
Jeremy Brown tied the school record for doubles with nine other players as he hit three in his final three at-bats. Kyle MacDonald knocked in a career-high four runs in the game and hit .545 on the weekend with a .667 on-base percentage and five RBI.
A-State used seven different pitchers in the game and all but one walked a batter. The only one not to walk one was Blake Wynn, who was a pitcher last season as he redshirted, but moved full-time to a position player this season. He pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
Winston Welch picked up his first hit of the season in a pinch-hit AB.
A-State dropped the finale 8-3. Grant Hawkins hit his second triple of the season and fifth of his career in the contest and drove in two runs.
Jeremy Brown started two more games at third base during the series and has three starts there after playing second base all of last season. He has not made an error at the position despite the lack of experience.
Notes from Southern Illinois Game
A-State is now 25-48 all-time against Southern Illinois after the March 13 win in 11 innings by a score of 9-8. Head coach Tommy Raffo is now 8-2 against the Salukis in his tenure.
Drew Tipton gave A-State the win with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th. It is A-State’s second walk-off win of the season along with the 7-6 win over SEMO Feb. 20. This was the team’s second extra-inning game and first win in extras after losing 2-1 to New Orleans March 2, also in 11 innings. A native of Bryant, Ark., Tipton posted his second three-hit game of the season and first multiple-RBI game of the year.
Nate Alberius hurled 6.2 innings in the win and allowed three runs, but none were earned. He struck out six and walked four with the outing giving him his fourth straight quality start to begin his A-State career. It was the team’s ninth of the season in just 13 games.
Bryan Ayers was the winning pitcher in the game and tossed a season-high three innings after only throwing two so far this year. He gave up a three-run homer to allow SIU to take an 8-7 lead, but retired the final nine hitters he faced in order with five strikeouts. He is now 1-0 on the season.
Grant Hawkins walked twice to extend his on-base streak to 13 games, which accounts for every game this season.
Cullen Ray drove in two runs and is tied for the team lead in RBI with nine. He has three multiple-RBI games to tie for the team lead despite only hitting .182 so far.
Casey Vaughan returned to the lineup to make his first start in right field and had two hits to give him his first multi-hit game of the year.
Andrew Lannon pinch hit in the game and drove home the tying run with a RBI ground out, the first RBI of his short career. He then played a key role in giving the Red Wolves the win with his first career hit, a single to right, to move Jacob Jablonski to third with one out in the 11th inning. Jablonski came around to score on Tipton’s hit.
With Arkansas State’s 9-8 walk-off win over Southern Illinois, the team now has 28 walk-off victories since Tommy Raffo became head coach in 2009. This time it was a Drew Tipton single providing the dramatics. This is A-State’s second of the season after Jacob Jablonski was hit by a pitch to send the Red Wolves to a 7-6 walk-off win against SEMO Feb. 20. That was the first walk-off HBP during that time frame.
15 of those walk-offs have now been singles after Tipton’s hit March 13 versus the Salukis. Before that the last was when Justin Felix knocked in the winning run of A-State’s 9-8 win over Little Rock in 18 innings May 19, 2017. A-State has won on three walk-off wild pitches under Raffo, while errors, sacrifice flies, fielder’s choices, and home runs have happened twice. Only once has the walk-off win occurred on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The two home runs were a three-run homer by Zach George against ULM April 6, 2012 for a 7-6 win and a solo shot by Alex Potts to beat FAU March 23, 2013 by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings.
Head coach Tommy Raffo’s first victory was a walk-off win against Texas State in Arlington, Texas against Texas State when Josh DeMoney singled home Cody Pace for a 4-3 win in 10 innings.
Since 2014, the walk-off wins have been less traditional with only six of the 12 being singles. During that time frame, two have been via wild pitch and fielder’s choice, while the other two were on a sacrifice fly and hit-by-pitch.
Five of the walk-off wins have been by scores of 4-3, while four have been by scores of 3-2 and 7-6, each. A-State has had one walk-off victory by a 1-0 score, which was last season versus SIU when A-State won a walk-off wild pitch. The highest scoring walk-off win was a 13-12 win May 26, 2016 against Troy. Tanner Ring capped A-State’s comeback in that SBC Tournament game after being behind 12-4.
Three of them have now been by scores of 9-8, but all three have been extra-inning affairs. The first was a walk-off walk by Murray Watts on April 24, 2010 before last season’s 9-8, 18-inning win with Justin Felix’s walk-off single, followed by Drew Tipton’s single to give A-State a 9-8 win in 11 innings over Southern Illinois March 13.
National and Conference Rankings
A-State ranks fourth in the conference in walks drawn by an offense, but is 46th in the nation in the category with 95 so far this season.
Grant Hawkins is 18th in the nation in walks with 19, but ranks fifth in the league in the category. He has an on-base percentage of .506 to rank third in the conference and 52nd in the nation.
266 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 266-264-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 266 wins are the third most at the school behind J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson and Bill Bethea.
Raffo has a completely new staff to assist him this season. Rick Guarno joined the staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with his most recent stint at UT Martin. Guarno played seven seasons of professional baseball before getting into coaching.
Rowdy Hardy is the team’s new pitching coach and comes to A-State from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M. He played six seasons of professional baseball before getting into coaching.
Volunteer assistant Craig Massoni rounds out the staff and he just concluded his playing days after five seasons of professional baseball.