|Red Wolves to Host FIU in Key SBC Series|
ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES (27-19, 15-7)
vs. Florida International Golden Panthers (29-20, 13-11)
May 11-13, 2012 6:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. & 11:00 a.m.
Tomlinson Stadium & Kell Field (1,200) Jonesboro, Arkansas
Radio: 95.3 FM & KNEA 970 AM & AStateRedWolves.com
LiveStats at AStateRedWolves.com
LEADING OFF: The Arkansas State Red Wolves (27-19, 15-7) return to Sun Belt Conference action this weekend when they host the Golden Panthers of Florida International (29-20, 13-11) in the final home Sun Belt Conference weekend series of the season. With six games remaining, Arkansas State is alone in second place in the Sun Belt Conference standings, one game behind league-leading Florida Atlantic. FIU is in third place in the league standings, four games out of first place. The series is scheduled to get underway Friday at 6:00 p.m. Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m., with Senior Day festivities being held shortly before gametime. Sunday’s game three has been moved to an 11:00 a.m. start to accommodate FIU’s travel back to Miami. All ASU baseball games may be heard on 95.3 FM and KNEA 970 AM, and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats and video may also be accessed by logging on to AStateRedWolves.com.
THE TEAMS: Arkansas State will take the field Friday on a four-game win streak after defeating UAPB 7-3 Tuesday afternoon in North Little Rock. The win streak began last weekend when ASU swept South Alabama in a three-game SBC series in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves defeated South Alabama 8-1 in Friday night’s game, 6-1 in the Saturday affair and 2-1 in the Sunday finale. The ASU pitching staff was outstanding in the series, holding the Jags to just three runs and a .149 batting average over the weekend. Senior Jacob Lee leads the ASU pitching staff with an ERA of 2.86 that ranks third in the league. Lee ranks fifth in the SBC with 66 strikeouts. Offensively, the Red Wolves are led by third baseman Claude Johnson, who leads the team with a .357 batting average and a team-high 13 doubles. Left fielder Logan Uxa is hitting .304 and leads ASU with eight home runs. Center fielder Michael Faulkner is among the nation’s leaders in stolen bases, swiping 33 bases on 34 attempts this season. Freshman right fielder Collin Massanelli is hitting .337 on the year and has reached base in a team-high 27 consecutive games - every game in which he has played as a Red Wolf. FIU, the preseason SBC co-favorite to win the conference championship, enters the game at 29-20 on the season and 13-11 in league action. The Golden Panthers have won four of their last five games, including a 15-3 win at Bethune-Cookman Wednesday night and a 2-1 series victory over Middle Tennessee last weekend in Miami. FIU’s pitching staff leads the league with an ERA of 3.89 and the Panthers are second in the Sun Belt with a team batting average of .292. Hitting .400 on the year, third baseman Mike Martinez leads the league and is the only player in the conference hitting .400 or better on the season. Preseason SBC Player of the Year Pablo Bermudez is hitting .306, outfielder Jabari Henry is hitting .308 and is second in the league with 12 home runs and fourth with 44 RBIs, and outfielder Nathan Burns leads the league with eight triples and is hitting .314. Saturday’s scheduled starter on the mound, Michael Ellis, is third in the league with 70 strikeouts, and has the ninth-best ERA in the league at 3.33. Friday’s starter, Eddy Pidermann, is 8-1 on the year and his ERA of 3.11 ranks fifth.
THE FIU SERIES: Florida International leads the series 25-19-1, including a series victory last year in Miami when the Golden Panthers won two of three games. FIU defeated the Red Wolves 3-2 in the Friday game and 6-1 in Saturday’s contest, but the two teams played to an 8-8 tie in Sunday’s game. The last ASU series victory came during the 2010 season when the Red Wolves won two of three games in Jonesboro.
QUICK HITS: The ASU pitching staff leads the Sun Belt Conference in fewest hits allowed with 406 and fewest runs allowed with 227...third baseman Claude Johnson’s batting average of .357 ranks fifth in the SBC...senior pitcher Jacob Lee ranks third in the SBC with an ERA of 2.86 and fifth in strikeouts with 66...the Red Wolves have committed 50 errors on the season, the fewest in the SBC...senior center fielder Michael Faulkner leads the league with 33 stolen bases on 34 attempts, and his four steals against Missouri State April 4 are the most for any player in a single game in the Sun Belt this season...junior John Koch is second in the Sun Belt with nine saves...junior Daniel Wright has picked off five runners, tops in the league...with their 27 victories heading into this weekend’s action, the Red Wolves have already matched their total for last season...with seven regular season games and at least three SBC Tournament games left to be played, the Red Wolves are within striking distance of a 30-victory season. The Red Wolves won 30 games during the 2010 season, which is the most in head coach Tommy Raffo’s four years at ASU...with one more conference victory, the Red Wolves will have matched the second-most league wins in school history. The 2010 ASU squad finished 16-14, and 16 conference victories is second only to the 20-victory season posted by the 1995 A-State team.
NATIONAL HONORS: After holding South Alabama to just one run in each game of last weekend’s Sun Belt Conference series sweep, the Arkansas State pitching staff has been named InsidePitching.com’s National Pitching Staff of the Week. Arkansas State used just six pitchers over the weekend, giving up a total of just three runs in the Red Wolves’ first-ever series sweep of South Alabama. The Jaguars went into the weekend with the league’s best batting average at .326 in conference games, but ASU pitchers Jacob Lee, Daniel Wright, Cory Kyle, Brandon Farley, John Koch and Bradley Wallace held the Jags to a .149 average, allowing just 13 hits while striking out 14 batters. The ASU pitching staff is directed by second-year coach Tighe Dickinson and holds a team ERA of 4.23. Lee went seven innings to get the win in Friday’s 8-1 victory, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out three and walking four. Farley came on in the eighth and Koch in the ninth, and neither allowed a baserunner in the final two frames. In the Saturday contest, Wright gave up one run on five hits, struck out four, walked just two and retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced to pick up the win in the 6-1 ASU victory, giving the Red Wolves their first series victory over the Jaguars since the 2009 season. His seven innings of work in the game tied his career high. Farley and Koch again worked the final two innings and combined to give up no runs on one hit and one walk, with one strikeout. Kyle put the Red Wolves in position to get the 2-1 win in Sunday’s finale, giving up the one South Alabama run on just one hit in seven innings of work, the longest outing of his career. Kyle struck out five batters and walked three, setting the stage for Wallace to work the final two innings to pick up the win. Wallace struck out one and did not issue a walk over the final two frames, giving up two hits to improve to 3-1 on the season.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Following their three-game sweep of Sun Belt Conference foe South Alabama May 4-6, the Arkansas State Red Wolves were named Honorable Mention Team of the Week by CollegeBaseballInsiders.com. The Red Wolves held South Alabama, the league’s top-hitting team in league play going into the weekend at .326, to just one run in each of the three games, winning 8-1 in the Friday night contest, 6-1 in the Saturday game and 2-1 in the Sunday finale. ASU pitchers Jacob Lee, Daniel Wright, Cory Kyle, Brandon Farley, John Koch and Bradley Wallace combined to hold the Jags to a .149 average, allowing just 13 hits while striking out 14 batters. The Red Wolves wrapped up the sweep by rallying from a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth in Sunday’s contest, getting a walk-off single from pinch-hitter Alex Potts to drive in the winning run.
POTTS COMES THROUGH: Trailing 1-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Red Wolves rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning, getting a walk-off RBI single from pinch-hitter Alex Potts to defeat the South Alabama Jaguars 2-1 May 6 in the Sun Belt Conference series finale between the two teams at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field. The Potts’ single helped the Red Wolves sweep the Jaguars in the three-game series. For his efforts, he was named CollegeSportsMadness.com’s Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week May 8.
BERTH SECURED: With their 2-1 victory over South Alabama May 6, Arkansas State assured itself of a victory in the eight-team Sun Belt Conference Tournament scheduled for May 23-27 in Bowling Green, Ky. Arkansas State is assured of no worse than the No. 6 seed in the eight-team field, and can clinch at least the No. 2 spot with a series victory at home over next weekend’s opponent, Florida International.
SEASON OF FIRSTS: The weekend series sweep of South Alabama May 4-6 was the first-ever sweep of the Jaguars by Arkansas State, adding to a string of firsts by the 2012 Red Wolves. The season already has seen not only the first series victories at Troy and Middle Tennessee, but also the first series win ever against Troy. The series victory at MTSU, coupled with a three-game sweep of the Raiders in 2011 also gives the Red Wolves their first-ever back-to-back series wins over MTSU.
LEE BECOMES ASU CAREER STRIKEOUT LEADER: With his five strikeouts against FAU April 22, senior Jacob Lee wrote his name in the ASU record books as the school’s career strikeout leader. Lee finished the day with 255 strikeouts, surpassing the record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg in 1967-70 with his five strikeouts April 22 against FAU. Lee tied the record when he struck out FAU left fielder Nathan Pittman in the first, then struck out center fielder Geoff Jimenez in the second to set the new record of 252. Following last weekend’s action against South Alabama, Lee now stands at 260 strikeouts in his career.
KOCH SETS RECORDS: Junior John Koch enjoyed a record-setting performance April 15 when he became the ASU single-season and career saves leader. Koch earned his seventh save of the season against Memphis April 10 to tie the single-season record, then closed out the series victory over Western Kentucky April 15 with his eighth save of the season to break the record. The two saves brought his career total to 12, which was also a new ASU career record. He has since raised his totals to nine on the season and 13 for his career.
FAULKNER TIES, BREAKS SCHOOL RECORDS: Junior center fielder Michael Faulkner tied the school record for stolen bases in a game when he swiped four in the Red Wolves’ April 4 game at Missouri State, bringing his season total to 26 at the time. Faulkner picked up his first stolen base after a first-inning single. The second followed up a second-inning single, and the final two came when he stole second and third after a base hit in the seventh. Faulkner wrote his name in the ASU record books again April 15, stealing two bases in ASU’s 6-3 win over Western Kentucky to tie the Arkansas State single-season record of 29 set by Jerome Miller in 1978. Faulkner was 4-4 on stolen base attempts during the Middle Tennessee series to break the record, and now stands at 33 on the season. The Sun Belt Conference steals leader, he also ranked third nationally following last weekend’s action in stolen bases per game (.83) and sixth in total stolen bases. Faulkner now has 74 stolen bases in his career, just 10 short of the ASU career record of 84 set in 1976-79 by Miller.
STREAKING: Freshman outfielder Collin Massanelli has reached base in all 27 games in which he has played, and currently leads the team with his 27-game on-base streak. He has gotten a hit in 23 of those 27 games. Junior left fielder Logan Uxa has reached base in 17 straight games and junior second baseman Zach Maggio has gotten aboard in 14 consecutive games. Sophomore third baseman Claude Johnson enters the UAPB game with an 8-game hit streak to lead the Red Wolves and has reached base in 15 consecutive games.
FIRST HOME RUN: Catcher Stuart Levy's second-inning home run during the Red Wolves 8-5 victory April 27 at Middle Tennessee was the first of his career.
CENTURY MARK FOR RAFFO: Arkansas State head coach Tommy Raffo picked up his 100th career victory - all at ASU - when the Red Wolves defeated Western Kentucky 5-0 April 13.
FIRST SHUTOUT: The Red Wolves’ 5-0 win over Western Kentucky April 13 was ASU’s first shutout victory of the season.
BREAKOUT WEEK FOR MAGGIO: Second baseman Zach Maggio led Arkansas State at the plate during the week of April 9-15, hitting .562 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and four runs scored. Against Western Kentucky, his average improved to .615 as he went 8-for-13 against the Hilltoppers. He posted a slugging percentage of .692 and an on-base percentage of .667. He was 1-for-1 on stolen base attempts, walked twice, had nine total bases and struck out just twice. Just two weeks prior, Maggio was hitting .089 on the season, but raised his batting average to .276 heading into the FAU series.
UXA LEADING THE WAY: Junior outfielder Logan Uxa is leading the Red Wolves in seven statistical categories, including RBIs (35), slugging percentage (.500), on-base percentage (.440), home runs (8), walks (33), total bases (79) and hit-by-pitch (7). His batting average of .304 is second best on the team. He is the only player on the roster to have started or played in all 46 games for the Red Wolves during the 2012 season.
FINISHING STRONG: The Red Wolves are a perfect 23-0 this season in games in which they hold the lead after eight innings, 22-2 when leading after seven and 19-3 when leading after six frames.
IMPRESSIVE START: The Red Wolves won their first three Sun Belt Conference weekend series for the first time since the 1996 season. Arkansas State swept UALR in the opening weekend, defeated ULL on the road 2-1 in week two and won at Troy 2-1 in week three to match the effort of the 1996 squad, which defeated Texas Pan-American, Louisiana Tech and Jacksonville in its first three conference weekends, before losing two of three the next week against New Orleans. The 2012 Red Wolves suffered their first weekend series loss on the year when they lost to ULM 10-1 in the rubber match of their series with the Warhawks, but bounced back the following weekend to take two of three against Western Kentucky and have not lost a weekend series since.
CAREER HIGH FOR LEE: Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee struck out a career-high 10 batters in six innings of work March 30 against Troy. Lee went to the dugout having shut out the Trojans through six innings, but Troy got to the ASU bullpen in the final three frames and rallied for a 7-6 win over the Red Wolves.
WALKING OFF: Sophomore Zach George came up with one of the biggest hits of his career April 6 against ULM. With the Red Wolves trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, George went to the plate with runners at first and second and blasted a towering home run over the right field wall to give the Red Wolves a 7-6 victory.
BREAKOUT GAME: Arkansas State’s 16-8 victory over the Troy Trojans March 31 was the first game this season in which the Red Wolves hit three home runs. The 16 runs scored by ASU in the game was also a season high.
EIGHT IS GREAT: Through 46 games, the eighth inning has been the most productive for Arkansas State, with the Red Wolves scoring 42 runs in the frame, and that productivity has paid off. Arkansas State is 23-0 on the season when leading after eight innings.
STRONG WEEK FOR KYLE: ASU senior Cory Kyle was outstanding in his two appearances during the week of March 26, pitching 9.1 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts over a two-game span. Kyle retired the final 12 batters he faced to earn the save in ASU’s 4-2 victory over UAPB March 28, then came back to shutout Troy for 5.1 innings in his April 1 start against the Trojans.
CAREER DAY FOR WRIGHT: Junior starting pitcher Daniel Wright struck out a career-high nine batters in 6.2 innings to pick up the win in ASU’s 6-4 victory at ULL March 24. Wright, a former walk-on, retired 19 of the first 22 batters he faced, including the first nine. He held the Cajuns to .200 hitting on the day, 78 points below their team batting average, gave up just five hits and did not issue a walk. He threw 103 pitches on the day and his nine strikeouts are the most for any ASU player in a game this year.
STRONG PERFORMANCE BY JOHNSON: Third baseman Claude Johnson hit .538 in the March 23-25 series against ULL. Johnson followed that up by hitting .429 in ASU’s five games last week and heads into the Missouri State series as ASU’s leading hitter at .360 on the season, a figure that climbs to .441 against Sun Belt competition. Johnson’s .360 average currently ranks sixth in the Sun Belt.
McWILLIAMS, KYLE TAME LIONS: After Arkansas State gave up a pair of first-inning runs to visiting UAPB March 28, relievers Seth McWilliams and Cory Kyle came in to shut out the Golden Lions for the final 8.1 innings in the 4-2 ASU victory. McWilliams worked 4.1 innings to pick up his third win of the season, giving up no runs on two hits, with three strikeouts. Kyle worked the final four frames, retiring the final 12 batters he faced to earn his first save of the year. He struck out six batters and allowed just two hits, and neither Kyle nor McWilliams walked a batter on the night.
FIRST ROAD WIN: ASU’s March 24, 6-4 victory over the Cajuns was the Red Wolves’ first true road victory of the season. Arkansas State defeated Dayton 9-3 March 9 on a neutral field at Clarksville, Tenn. for what was previously its only victory away from Jonesboro.
SECOND STRAIGHT SWEEP: The Red Wolves posted their second straight sweep of in-state and Sun Belt Conference rival UALR March 16-18. Arkansas State opened their 2012 SBC slate against the Trojans and won 7-3, 2-3 and 8-4 to notch their sixth consecutive win against UALR. The Red Wolves also swept the Trojans to close out the 2011 regular season.
SECOND STRAIGHT SWEEP, PART II: The Red Wolves three-game sweep of UALR was the second consecutive weekend sweep when playing the same opponent in all three weekend games. Arkansas State also posted a three-game sweep over South Dakota State March 2-4, whipping the Jackrabbits 15-5, 12-7 and 10-1.
LEE OUTSTANDING AGAINST UALR: Senior Jacob Lee was outstanding in his Friday night start against UALR. Against the top-hitting team in the conference, Lee struck out seven batters and gave up just five hits – four of which were singles – to earn the win in ASU’s 7-3 victory over the Trojans. Lee held the Trojans, who were hitting .328 and leading the Sun Belt in almost every offensive category, to a .200 batting average as a team and carried a shutout into the eighth inning.
ASU PITCHING STAFF SHUTS DOWN UALR: Facing the league leader in almost every offensive category over the weekend, the Arkansas State pitching staff was outstanding in shutting down UALR’s offensive attack. The Red Wolves held UALR to a .194 batting average and just six multiple-base hits on the weekend – and no home runs. The Trojans came into the series with the league’s best batting average at .328. Seven ASU pitchers combined to post an ERA of 2.25 against the Trojans, which had scored 10 or more runs in eight of their last ten games. In the three-game series against the Trojans, the ASU pitchers struck out 26 batters while giving up just 19 hits and nine total runs.
TRIO NAMED ALL-TOURNAMENT: Juniors Michael Faulkner, Ryan Roberts and Logan Uxa were all named to the Austin Peay Riverview Inn All-Tournament team for their performances at the classic March 9-11. Faulkner hit .592 with a triple, Uxa hit .416 with a two doubles and a home run and Roberts hit .428 and from his catcher position threw out two baserunners trying to steal.
EXTRA INNINGS: Arkansas State’s 11-inning game March 11 against Austin Peay was the Red Wolves’ first extra-inning game of the season. The game lasted 4:35 and saw the Red Wolves battle back from a 9-3 deficit after five innings. Arkansas State tied the game in the ninth on an RBI single from first baseman Michael George before falling 10-9 in the 11th to the Governors. The Red Wolves evened their record to 1-1 in extra innings games this season against UALR March 17, posting a 3-2, 10-inning win to clinch the SBC series.
BIG WEEK FOR FAULKNER: Junior Michael Faulkner was outstanding for ASU in its five games during the week of March 6-11. Faulkner hit .417 and was a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts. Faulkner went 10-for-24 at the plate with a triple, 7 runs scored and a pair of RBIs. He posted a slugging percentage of .500, drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, for an on-base percentage of .500 as well. He was named to the Austin Peay Riverview Inn All-Tournament team after hitting .592 with a triple and stealing six bases in the tournament.
OFFENSE COMES ALIVE: The Arkansas State offense exploded for 37 runs in the Red Wolves’ three-game sweep over South Dakota State March 2-4, blasting 40 hits along the way. The Red Wolves slugged eight doubles, two triples and two home runs in the three games against the Jackrabbits and posted a team batting average of .354. ASU’s 37 runs in the series was the most since the Red Wolves scored 38 against New Orleans in 2010.
KYLE SHUTS DOWN JACKRABBITS: With a 30 mph wind blowing out that had already played a part in five runs through the first four innings for South Dakota State, senior reliever Cory Kyle went to the mound and shut down the Jackrabbits through the final five innings, striking out six in ASU’s 15-5 win March 2. Kyle picked up the win after holding the Jackrabbits to just one hit after SDSU had belted out eight in the first four frames. Kyle allowed just two baserunners in the final five innings, walking one and giving up one single.
EMERY COMES THROUGH: Junior outfielder/designated hitter Ryan Emery led the ASU batting attack during the week of Feb. 20-26, hitting .467 with two game-winning RBI hits to help the Red Wolves to a 4-2 record. With the Red Wolves trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning of game two against Evansville, Emery hit a two-run single to erase the deficit and send home the winning run in ASU’s 5-4 win. He came up big again in the Sunday finale, delivering an RBI single up the middle in the eighth that again proved to be the winning run in a 3-2 victory for the Red Wolves. For the week, Emery went 7-for-15 with four RBIs, a run scored, a walk and a sacrifice.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL HOME DEBUT: With their 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22, Red Wolves extended their winning streak in home openers to 22 games, a run that dates back to the 1991 season.
4-K INNING FOR FARLEY: Arkansas State senior right-hander Brandon Farley notched a rare four-strikeout inning in the Red Wolves’ 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22. After Murray State’s Ty Stetson reached on a dropped third strike to lead off the seventh inning, Farley proceeded to mow down the next three batters to close out the frame with four strikeouts. Farley faced seven batters on the afternoon, striking out five without giving up a hit or issuing a walk.
FIRST WIN FOR SHORDON: True freshman Levi Shordon made the most of his first career start against Murray State Feb. 22, picking up the win in ASU’s 11-3 victory. In four innings of work, the lefty from Simi Valley, Calif. gave up just three hits and one run, while striking out one. Shordon gave up the run in the first, then settled in and pitched three and one-thirds innings of shutout baseball to earn his first win.
CAREER HIGH FOR FAULKNER: Arkansas State junior Michael Faulkner drove in a career-high four runs in the Red Wolves’ 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22. Faulkner’s previous career high was three runs, set in 2001 against Memphis and again against Louisiana-Lafayette.
MOTHER NATURE UNKIND: The Red Wolves came up on the short end of a 2-1 score against Lamar in the season opener, with both the Cardinals and Mother Nature playing a role in the loss. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Arkansas State was poised to tie the game or take the lead when the game was called due to weather. The Red Wolves had runners at first and second with just one out when heavy rainfall forced officials to call the game, giving Lamar the win.
STRONG DEBUT FOR LEE: Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee was outstanding in the season opener for the Red Wolves, striking out five batters in six shutout innings of work on the road at Lamar. Lee walked just one batter and surrendered just five hits – all singles.
FIRST HOME RUN: Arkansas State sophomore Claude Johnson slugged his first career home run during the Red Wolves’ opening weekend at Lamar. Johnson went 1-for-2 in Sunday’s finale to notch the home run. As a freshman last year, Johnson hit .220, going 11-for-50 with three doubles and two RBIs.
NEWCOMERS SHINE: Newcomers Stuart Levy and Drew Burks both enjoyed solid outings in their first two games as Red Wolves during opening weekend, each hitting .333 in a pair of games against Lamar. Burks, a junior transfer from Coffeyville CC, started at DH and went 2-for-6 with a double and a walk to post an on-base percentage of .429. Levy, a true freshman from Little Rock, drew one start at catcher and went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch to record an on-base percentage of .500.
ASU IN SEASON OPENERS: The Red Wolves are 32-32 all-time on opening day. Arkansas State dropped its season opener Feb. 17, falling 2-1 on the road at Lamar. The Red Wolves are 2-2 in season openers under head coach Tommy Raffo, defeating Texas State 4-3 in 2009 and Southern Illinois 14-5 in 2010.
SUCCESS UNDER RAFFO: Arkansas State has won two games at the Sun Belt Conference tournament each of the past two seasons under fourth-year head coach Tommy Raffo. Prior to Raffo’s coming to Jonesboro, Arkansas State had not won a game at the SBC Tournament since the 1997 season. The Red Wolves advanced to the tournament semifinals in 2010 and went 2-1 in pool play a year ago - with the only setback being a 13-inning loss to eventual runner-up Florida International.