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A-State is now 11-16 and dropped to 3-9 in SBC play after being swept at Georgia State April 6-8.
The Red Wolves had their second grand slam of the season in the April 7 loss to the Panthers as Kyle MacDonald sent his team-leading fourth home run of the season over the right-center field fence with the bases juiced. The two grand slams in a season are the most since three during the 2015 campaign.
Starting pitchers for A-State entered the weekend series with Georgia State with a 3.56 ERA on the year, but posted a 16.00 ERA with 16 earned runs allowed in nine innings against GSU. A-State’s bullpen had a 9.00 ERA in the series, but Coulton Lee, Bo Ritter, Carter Holt, and Korey Wasson combined to allow just one run over 8.1 innings out of the pen.
Kyle MacDonald raised his batting average to .359 and currently ranks fifth in the league, while Bradey Welsh has a 5.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio that is second in the SBC and 63rd in the nation.
A-State is 41st in the country in HBP’s with 41.
A-State vs. Memphis In-Depth Series History
The Red Wolves and Tigers have played 154 times in history with A-State trailing the all-time series 58-95-1. The 154 times are the most times Arkansas State has played any opponent.
The two teams have only not played in four seasons since 1948 with those years being 1973, 1983, 1985, and 1986. A-State lost the first meeting to Memphis 10-2 in 1948 before winning the second game that season 4-2. The lone tie in the series came in 1965 by a score of 6-6.
Memphis did the bulk of their damage from 1968-1991 by holding a 45-12 advantage over the Red Wolves during that time frame. However, since the 1992 season, A-State holds a narrow 28-27 edge over the Tigers after splitting two games a season ago.
Head coach Tommy Raffo is 11-7 against Memphis during his tenure that began in 2009. The team lost to Memphis 16-8 in his first game against them, but bounced back to win 8-7 in 10 innings during the second meeting in 2009. The two teams have split the home-and-home series five times under Raffo, while A-State has swept the two games three times (2011, 2014, 2016), while Memphis has swept the two games just once in 2015. This will mark the third time the two teams have played on back-to-back days since 2009. The teams did that in 2009 before doing so again in 2011.
Last season, A-State defeated Memphis 11-4 in the first game behind 12 hits, including two home runs from Joe Schrimpf and another by Justin Felix. Brandon Stuckenschneider earned his first career win in the start on the mound while the Red Wolves knocked Danny Denz, who is starting Tuesday, out of the game in the second inning after scoring four off of him. The rematch saw Memphis sneak by A-State 2-1 with a run in the ninth inning. The Red Wolves got a RBI double from Winston Welch but nothing else.
Memphis enters the midweek series with a record of 9-23 and is coming off a sweep at the hands of Cincinnati in an American Athletic Conference matchup. The Tigers are 3-5 in midweek games so far this season and won games against SEMO and Mississippi Valley State, two teams the Red Wolves have faced this year.
Notes from Georgia State Series
A-State is now 7-9 all-time against GSU after getting swept April 6-8 and is now 2-7 in games against the Panthers in Atlanta.
The Red Wolves dropped the opener 12-3 after collecting nine hits, all of them from the top four in the order (Grant Hawkins, Kyle MacDonald, Jeremy Brown, and Tobias Johnson). Hawkins had two doubles in the game and led with three hits.
Carter Holt tossed a perfect inning for his first scoreless outing of the season. Chase Nix tied a season high with two innings of work.
A-State dropped a 16-7 decision in game two with Kyle MacDonald and Caleb Squire collecting two hits. Nate Alberius took his second loss of the season, while Korey Wasson pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings in relief.
Kyle MacDonald his his team-best fourth home run in the game and it was a grand slam, the team’s second of the season. The two grand slams are the most in a season since three in 2015 when Jeremy Brown, Joe Schrimpf, and Stuart Levy each hit one. Drew Tipton had A-State’s only slam last season, while Matt Burgess had the only one in 2016.
The team dropped a tough 3-2 series finale Sunday with Peyton Culbertson only able to get six outs for the second straight start. Coulton Lee was fantastic in relief with five innings of one-run ball while Bo Ritter pitched a perfect eighth inning to lower his ERA to 1.96 on the year.
A-State starters entered the series with a 3.56 ERA but were tagged for a 16.00 mark in the GSU series.
Winston Welch reached base in all three games to increase his on-base streak to 13 games, the third best by a player this season, while Jeremy Brown extended his hit streak to eight, the second best this season.
Notes from Louisiana Series
A-State is now 41-83 after winning two of three against the Ragin’ Cajuns March 29-31. The series win for the Red Wolves was the first since 2012. It was just the 10th series win for A-State over Louisiana all-time.
The Red Wolves were able to come from behind in the series opener with an 8-7 win in 12 innings. A-State is now 2-1 in extra-inning contests and the 12 innings is the longest game of the season after the other two were finished in 11 frames. Bradey Welsh went six innings and posted his fourth quality start and struck out a career-high 10 in the game, while Bo Ritter didn’t allow a hit over the final 2.2 innings to earn his first win of the 2018 campaign.
Winston Welch paced the A-State offense with a 5-for-5 night and two RBI. The five hits are the most by an A-State player this season and he also hit his third long ball of the season tying him with Tobias Johnson, Jaylon Deshazier, and Kyle MacDonald for the team lead. Casey Vaughan recorded a season-best three hits, while Andrew Leggo had his second multi-hit game of the season and drove in a run.
The Red Wolves clinched the series win with a 14-2 victory over the Cajuns behind a complete game from Nate Alberius. Alberius allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and seven punch outs. The complete game was the first nine-inning complete game since Cody Jackson versus ULM April 22, 2016. It also gave Alberius a team-best sixth quality start.
Eight of A-State’s nine starters got a hit in the 14-2 win with Jeremy Brown leading the way with three, while Tobias Johnson and Kyle MacDonald had three RBI each.
However, the team couldn’t complete the sweep as Colten Schmidt threw a complete game for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the 6-1 win. Jeremy Brown led the team with two hits, while Winston Welch had one to push his on-base streak to 10 games and hit streak to five.
Coulton Lee pitched in the game to run his career appearance total to 80 games. The 80 career appearances are the fifth most in school history and five away from tying Ryan Hamilton for fourth most all-time.
Bryan Ayers tossed a season-high 3.1 shutout innings in relief in the third and final game of the series.
Arkansas State had its third walk-off victory of the season in the March 29 8-7 win over Louisiana when Caleb Squire was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning. It is A-State’s 29th walk-off win under Tommy Raffo and only the second by HBP with the other occurring this season when A-State beat SEMO 7-6 on a HBP by Jacob Jablonski. The other walk off this season was a single by Drew Tipton to give A-State a 9-8 win against SIU March 13.
15 of those walk-offs have 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 13 being singles. During that time frame, two have been via wild pitch, fielder’s choice, and hit-by-pitch, while one was by sacrifice fly.
Five of the walk-off wins have been by scores of 4-3, while four have been by scores of 3-2, 7-6, and 8-7. 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.
269 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 269-272-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 272 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.