Game Notes: @AStateBaseball to Host SEMO
|Southeast Missouri at Arkansas State
March 7, 2017 | 6:00 p.m.
Jonesboro, Ark. | Tomlinson Stadium/Kell Field
Radio: 95.3 FM The Ticket | TV: None | Video: Red Wolves Digital Network ($)
| Video/Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | Game Notes: A-State | SEMO
A-STATE/SOUTHEAST MISSOURI SERIES HISTORY
• A-State is 35-33 all-time against Southeast Missouri State in a series that began during the 1959 season. Arkansas State claimed a 3-1 victory in that game, but it is not known where the game took place. SEMO bounced back to claim an 11-2 win in the 1960 game, but A-State won five straight contests from 1961 to the first game between the two schools in 1963. The Red Wolves won three games in the 1962 season against the Redhawks, including a 6-2 win in the Southwest Regional. SEMO broke the streak with 4-0 and 5-4 wins to end A-State’s 1963 campaign.
• More recently, the teams had split 30 games since 2000 evenly at 15-15 before SEMO’s two victories last season put the tally at 17-15 in favor of the Redhawks. The two teams have met twice every year since then except for in the 2006 and 2007 seasons when the two teams just played once in Jonesboro each season. The Redhawks won the first five meetings, before an A-State 6-1 win in Cape Girardeau broke the streak in 2002. The Red Wolves won five straight meetings during that time span from 2005 to the first game the two teams played in 2008.
• Head coach Tommy Raffo is 8-8 against Southeast Missouri in his career. A-State won both meetings in his first season in 2009 by scores of 12-1 and 17-11 before splitting in 2010. The Red Wolves won three straight (two in 2013 and first meeting of 2014) for Raffo’s longest winning streak against SEMO. Last season Southeast Missouri won 4-2 in Cape Girardeau after A-State held a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning. However, pinch hitter Chris Osborne hit a three-run homer off of closer Tanner Ring to give the Redhawks a 4-2 lead with two outs in the inning and SEMO held on to win by that score. Bryan Ayers started and struck out eight in six innings, while Jacob Lawrence pitched for Southeast Missouri and allowed one run in 6.2 innings. A week later on April 12 the two teams met in Jonesboro and the Redhawks won a much more high-scoring affair by the count of 13-8. Lawrence earned the win while Bo Ritter took the loss. Matt Burgess and Tanner Ring homered for the Red Wolves, while Joe Schrimpf drove in four runs.
NOTES FROM CINCINNATI SERIES
• A-State improved to 3-1 all-time against Cincinnati by taking two of three from the Bearcats March 3-5. A-State won Friday 5-4 and 5-1 Saturday, but lost the series finale 11-4 Sunday. Prior to the three meetings the two teams had just played once. It was a 2-0 A-State win in 1962.
• The Red Wolves won Friday’s game in come-from-behind fashion after trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. Cincinnati walked in a run to bring the score to 4-3 and Joe Schrimpf delivered a two-out, two-run single to right field to put A-State on top 5-4, which would be the final. Jeremy Brown hit his second home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field, but his first over the fence as his first homer was an inside-the-parker. Tanner Kirby picked up the win in relief to improve to 2-0 on the year after tossing the final three innings in relief of Bryan Ayers. The Maumelle, Ark., native didn’t give up a run on two hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Kirby hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven innings.
• Peyton Culbertson and Tyler Zuber quited the Cincinnati bats in game two as A-State won 5-1. Culbertson tossed his first quality start of the year and second for the team this season after lasting six innings and allowing no runs on six hits with one walk and five punch outs. The Collierville, Tenn., native improved to 2-1 on the year. Zuber earned his second save of the season by throwing the last three innings, but he did allow his first run of the year. A-State was led at the plate by Garrett Rucker, who was 2-for-3 with four RBI. Rucker hit his third triple of the season and the second of the third inning after Drew Tipton hit his first career three-bagger earlier in the frame. The four RBI were a new career high, while the three triples put him first in the conference and tied for fifth in the nation in the category. Jeremy Brown added another triple in the game to give the team seven for the year, tops in the SBC and second in the nation.
• Tobias Johnson registered the first hit of his career in his first career game for the Red Wolves in the Sunday contest, while Rucker added a couple of more hits and scored three times. Tyler Mitzel threw a career-high 5.2 innings and retired 10 straight at one point, but gave up five runs.
NOTES FROM MISSOURI STATE GAME
• Drew Tipton tied his season high for hits in a game with two, the third time he’s accomplished that this season and also stole a base to improve to 5-for-5 on the year.
• Joe Schrimpf hit his third double of the year.
• Tyler Zuber tossed a scoreless inning in relief along with Bo Ritter, while Chase Nix tossed two innings and allowed a run with three strikeouts and two walks. The run was the first allowed for the season for the Benton, Ark., native.
NOTES FROM NORTHWESTERN STATE SERIES
• The Red Wolves took two of three from Northwestern State Feb. 24-26 in Natchitoches, La., to avenge last season’s series loss to the Demons in Jonesboro. A-State won game one 3-2 before falling in game two 9-5. The Red Wolves tied a season high with 16 hits, six of which were for extra bases, in the rubber game Sunday as A-State won 12-3. The Red Wolves improved to 5-8 all-time against Northwestern State and Coach Raffo is now 3-3 against the Demons.
• Bryan Ayers improved to 2-0 on the season after lasting five innings in the Friday night contest. He allowed two runs on seven hits and walked five, but struck out nine batters. Tanner Kirby pitched the final four innings to register his first save of the season and the second for the team after allowing no runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Joe Schrimpf had two hits and two RBI, including the team’s first triple of the season. Drew Tipton was hit by two pitches and stole two bases.
• Game two saw A-State out hit the Demons 9-7 but fall by a score of 9-5. Jeremy Brown led the offensive effort when he finished a double shy of the cycle with his home run coming on an inside-the-parker when he hit a shot to right-center field that caromed back towards the infield after it hit the wall. It was the first inside-the-park home run since Joe Schrimpf’s last year on Feb. 27 in the first game of a doubleheader against Saint Louis in Emerson, Ga. Junior J.D. Rainwater picked up his first career RBI with a run-scoring single in the top of the ninth. Chase Nix pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
• A-State had an outburst at the plate with 12 runs, second most the team has scored this
season, in a 12-3 victory over the Demons to claim the series. Garrett Rucker and Jake Bakamus both tallied three hits each with two of Rucker’s being triples. The two triples marked the first time an A-State player hit two triples in one game since May 26 of last season against Troy when Ty White accomplished the feat. Prior to that the last person to do it was Pete Davis in 1970 against Alabama. Alex Howard hit two doubles and drove in two runs, while Justin Felix hit his second home run of the season against the wind to right-center field. Collin Cahill earned his first career win after allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits with seven walks and four strikeouts. Tyler Mitzel tossed three innings out of the bullpen and recorded seven of the nine outs via strikeout.
THE RUNNIN’ RED WOLVES
• A-State has the second most steals nationally with 28 on the year. The Red Wolves are 28-for- 35 on the year after struggling against Cincinnati by only converting one out of four chances.
• A-State only had 48 steals a season ago and the school record is 91, which was done twice in 1982 and 1983. The Red Wolves stole 63 bases in the 2014 season, which is the most in the Tommy Raffo era.
• Grant Hawkins leads the way with a 10-for 11 mark stealing with the 10 steals ranking as tied for the most in the country with two other players. Garrett Rucker and Drew Tipton both have five steals on the year to rank in a tie for sixth in the conference and 47th in the
nation. Seven different players for the Red Wolves have a steal on the young season.
PUNCHING THEM OUT
• The Red Wolves lead the SBC with 140 strikeouts as a pitching staff in just 113 innings of work this season. That comes out to a 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings ratio that is second in the league to Louisiana-Lafayette’s 11.4 mark and fifth in the country.
• Bryan Ayers is second in the conference with 26 punch outs, while Tyler Zuber is tied for fifth with 21 despite only throwing 11 innings so far this season. Additionally, Ayers is tied for the most strikeouts looking in the league with 12.
• Ayers ranks 25th in the nation in strikeouts, while Zuber is 71st.
HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT
• A-State set the school record for hit-by-pitches a season ago with 98 and has already been hit 22 times this season, which is the most in the conference and third in the nation. The nation’s leader is now Louisiana Tech at 31. The Bulldogs are set to visit Jonesboro next weekend for a three-game series March 10-12.
• Jake Bakamus has already been hit eight times and ranks second in the nation along with first in the conference in the category. He was hit 21 times last season, which was the third most in a single season in school history and fourth most in the country in 2016.
• Joe Schrimpf and Drew Tipton are second on the team with three HBP’s each, while 11 different players have been hit by a pitch this year for the Red Wolves.
238 AND COUNTING FOR RAFFO
• A-State head coach Tommy Raffo is now 238-234-1 in his ninth season. The 238 wins are the third most in school history behind Bill Bethea and J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson.
• Coach Raffo’s 200th win came back in the 2015 SBC Tournament and tied him with Richard Johnson for third most wins, while his 201st victory, that also came in the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Tournament moved him ahead of Johnson.
BYE, BYE, BYE
• A-State lost six seniors from last year’s team along with a handful of other letter winners.
• Four of the six were position players with Tanner Ring, a first-team All-SBC selection last season, leading the way. Ring led the team in doubles (16), homers (8), RBI (46), total bases (114), and slugging percentage (.496). Ty White led the team with a .318 batting average, six triples, and 12 steals in 2016, while Matt Burgess saw a productive career come to an end with a .265
batting average to go along with 11 doubles, seven home runs, and 41 RBI. He ended his career tied for fourth-most doubles in school history with 44 and third-most RBI with 136. Austin Baker was the other senior position player as he experienced an injury-plagued campaign. He hit .248 with eight doubles, two triples, a homer, and 19 RBI. He ended his career with the sixth-most runs scored (126), sixth-most walks (102), tied for fourth-most triples (8), seventh- most total bases (287), and sixth-most RBI (112).
• The two senior pitchers that departed were Cody Jackson and Adam Grantham, both who spent most of the 2016 campaign in the team’s starting rotation. Jackson pitched to a 2-4 record with a 4.80 ERA in 69.1 innings, while Grantham tallied a 2-3 mark with a 4.97 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 67 innings.
• The A-State baseball team welcomes 16 newcomers to the 2017 team as they join 15 returning letter winners and three redshirts.
• Seven of the newcomers are from junior colleges, while nine of the kids are high schoolers.
• Freshman left-handed pitcher and Sunday’s scheduled starter Collin Cahill was listed as the fifth-best freshman in the league by D1Baseball.com (full article:
https://d1baseball.com/analysis/2017-conference-previews-sun-belt/ with a paid subscription)
• The preview from D1Baseball.com also mentions transfer catcher Justin Felix and says, “He is their most projectable pro prospect, a 6.85 runner, with home run power who handles pitchers well.”
• 11 of the 16 newcomers have made an appearance this season.
• Arkansas State was picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Conference’s West Division with 27 points. Louisiana-Lafayette was picked atop the West Division, while SBC newcomer and defending national champion Coastal Carolina were chosen to win the East Division crown.
• 2017 marks the 40th season of Sun Belt baseball and the first year since 1994 the league will play a divisional (East/West) format.
• A-State was also chosen fifth in the West Division by D1Baseball.com, but said “the Red Wolves could be one of the surprise teams in the league.” Friday’s starter Bryan Ayers was also listed as the 10th-best MLB draft prospect for 2017, while sophomore Peyton Culbertson, Saturday’s game two starter was listed as the sixth-best 2018 MLB draft prospect.
• The 2017 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament will be seeded with the division winners as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, with the No. 1 seed being awarded to the divisional winner with the best conference winning percentage. Seeds No. 3- No. 10 will be selected based off winning percentage in conference play, regardless of division.
• Also new for 2017, the number of teams playing in the conference championship will increase from eight to ten. This would cause two additional games to be played. The first round games would include the No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed and the No. 7 seed vs. the No. 10 seed, with both contests conducted as single-elimination games on Tuesday of tournament week.
BREAKING DOWN THE RED WOLVES
• The 2017 version of the Red Wolves features 19 players from Arkansas with four apiece coming from Missouri and Tennessee. There are two players each from Arizona and Washington, with one player from each of Colorado, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
• A-State has five seniors, 15 juniors, three sophomores, and 11 freshmen.
• There are three redshirts from a season ago with RS-Senior Derek Birginske returning from an injury he suffered last season. The Russellville, Ark., native has pitched and played in the outfield at A-State, but is expected to only play outfield this season. The other two redshirts were pitcher Brandon Stuckenschneider and Drew Tipton, who were both true freshmen a season ago.
• A-State added two sets of brothers in freshmen Chase and Colten Nix (Benton, Ark.) and
Conrad and Cullen Ray (Germantown, Tenn.). The Rays are the son of former A-State football player Mike Ray, while Chase and Colten give A-State three players from Benton along with Coulton Lee.
• Speaking of three’s, A-State added three true freshmen from Star City, Ark., in Garry Hill, Austin Powell, and Blake Wynn. The trio led the Bulldogs to a 2015 4A State Championship. The Red Wolves also picked up three junior college transfers from New Mexico Military Institute in Justin Felix, Alex Howard, and Winston Welch. That trio was coached by former A-State assistant coach Chris Cook.