Game Notes: @AStateBaseball Hosts Georgia State
|Georgia State at Arkansas State
April 7-9, 2017 | 6:30 p.m.; 6:30 p.m.; 1:00 p.m.
Jonesboro, Ark. | Tomlinson Stadium/Kell Field
Radio: 95.3 FM The Ticket | TV: ESPN3 (Sat.) | Video: Red Wolves Digital Network ($); ESPN3 (Sat.)
| Video/Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | Game Notes: A-State | Georgia State
A-STATE/GEORGIA STATE SERIES HISTORY
• A-State trails the all-time series with Georgia State by a count of 6-3 with the first meetings coming in the 2014 season when the Panthers joined the Sun Belt Conference. A-State lost the first two meetings by scores of 5-1 and 7-6 in 10 innings before winning the finale 10-6 in Atlanta, Ga.
• The two schools played in Jonesboro in 2015 during the regular season, but were only able to play a Sunday doubleheader due to rainfall in the Northeast Arkansas area. The Panthers were able to sweep the Red Wolves 5-4 in 12 innings and 6-3. However, the two teams met again in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with A-State claiming a 6-2 decision over GSU in Troy, Ala.
• A-State traveled to Atlanta last season and won game one by a score of 11-1. The Red Wolves had 19 hits in the contest to tie their season high, which was done two other times. Tanner Ring collected five of those hits, which was one off the A-State record for hits in a game. Ring also scored four runs, drove in two, and had a stolen base. Joe Schrimpf had four hits in the game, while Austin Baker had three hits and three RBI. Tyler Zuber got the win after pitching six innings and allowing just one run. Game two was a close one throughout with the Panthers winning on a walk-off single 5-4 in 10 innings. Garrett Rucker led the Red Wolves with two hits, including his first career home run, and three RBI. Game three was mostly Georgia State as the Panthers used a seven-run third inning to take control of the game early and went on to win 14-6. Austin Baker and Tim Seldomridge both had two hits apiece to lead the team.
• All nine meetings between the two schools have come with Tommy Raffo as head coach with eight of the nine being in the regular season and one in the conference tournament.
• Georgia State enters the weekend with a record of 11-17 and 1-8 mark in league play after being swept by Coastal Carolina last weekend. The Panthers have lost seven straight games, but have a midweek win over No. 14 Ole Miss earlier in the year.
NOTES FROM SEMO MIDWEEK SERIES
• Arkansas State split a two-game midweek series with Southeast Missouri April 4-5 with a 10-1 win in Jonesboro followed by a 10-4 loss to the Redhawks in Cape Girardeau. The two teams were supposed to play March 7 in Jonesboro, but it was postponed due to rain, and play in Cape Girardeau on April 4. Instead the teams opted to play in Jonesboro Tuesday for the makeup game and then at Southeast Missouri on April 5. A-State is now 36-34 against SEMO all-time.
• Bradey Welsh made his second straight impressive midweek start as he earned his first career victory in the 10-1 win over the Redhawks April 4. He went a career-high seven innings and allowed just one run on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Over his last three appearances, all starts, he’s thrown 16 innings and has an ERA of 1.69 in that time frame with a 13-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In the process he’s lowered his season ERA from 24.30 to 5.59.
• Aside from Welsh, the biggest storyline in the Tuesday win was that eight of A-State’s 11 hits went for doubles, which was one shy of the school record set twice in 2006 (4/8 vs. UALR and 5/7 vs. WKU). Garrett Rucker and Tobias Johnson each had two doubles apiece, while Grant Hawkins, Alex Howard, Drew Tipton, and Justin Felix had one. The two doubles for Johnson were the first two extra-base hits of his career, while Rucker tied a career-high with four RBI in the game.
• A-State was ahead 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but scored six runs with two outs in the inning to put the game away. Drew Tipton and Garrett Rucker each had two-run doubles in the frame, while Joe Schrimpf singled one home and Justin Felix doubled another in.
• Wednesday’s game didn’t go quite as well as Tuesday’s did for A-State. The Red Wolves managed to score first on a two-out double by Justin Felix, his 12th of the season which ranks as first in the SBC and 26th in the nation, in the top of the fourth inning. However, SEMO went ahead in the bottom of the fifth inning by a score of 2-1. Joe Schrimpf singled home a run in the top of the sixth to tie things up again. Schrimpf has now reached base in 15 straight games and also owns a seven-game hitting streak, both of which are the longest streak by an A-State player this season.
• However, the Redhawks scored four in the bottom of the seventh to make the score 6-2 with A-State scoring a pair of runs on RBI singles by Garrett Rucker and Justin Felix to cut the score in half in the top of the eighth. However, SEMO scored four more times in the bottom of the eighth to take a 10-4 lead and held on to win by that score.
• A-State used six pitchers in the game with Chase Nix getting the loss. The last pitcher used was Derek Birginske, who made his first appearance of the season. He gave up four runs, though only one was earned, on two hits, two walks, and one punch out in the bottom of the eighth. J.D. Rainwater pinch hit in the top of the ninth and hit a single to right-center field for his second hit of the season.
NOTES FROM TEXAS STATE SERIES
• Arkansas State took two out of three games at Texas State to improve to 11-5 all-time against the Bobcats, while Tommy Raffo is now 11-4 against the team. Texas State came into the series at 16-9 with a 5-1 mark that led the West Division.
• The Red Wolves hit three home runs in each of the two games the team won to tie the season high, which was set back on March 22 in the 9-8 loss to Austin Peay. Garrett Rucker hit a monster shot to dead center field off the batter’s eye for the first one in Friday’s first game before Justin Felix and Drew Tipton added homers later in the 13-7 A-State win. Felix is now tied with Jeremy Brown for the team lead in home runs with four. The Red Wolves lost game two Friday 16-7, but bounced back for an 8-7 win Saturday with Joe Schrimpf, Drew Tipton, and Grant Hawkins all homering in that game. It was the third home run of the season for all three players, while it is Schrimpf’s 14th of his career to lead active players. Schrimpf’s was the go- ahead three-run homer in the seventh inning when A-State trailed 2-1, while Tipton added a two-run shot and Hawkins followed with a solo shot to give A-State back-to-back jacks for the first time this season. Their runs proved to be important as the Red Wolves held on for an 8-7 victory to take the series. The six home runs in the series are the most the team has had in a single three-game series since April 8-10, 2011 at ULM when the team also had six.
• Joe Schrimpf tied his career high with four runs scored and set a season high in the 13-7 win in the first game of the Friday doubleheader. Justin Felix tied a season high with three runs scored. Bo Ritter tossed 3.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen to earn the win after allowing just two hits. It was his first win of the season and fourth of his career, while Tanner Kirby went the final 3.2 innings to earn his second save of the season and fourth of his career. The 13 runs tied the most in a game for the Red Wolves this season with the 13-5 win over NYIT Feb. 19.
• A-State dropped game two 16-7 with Chase Nix logging a career-best four innings on the mound out of the bullpen. He allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits. Jake Bakamus
registered three hits in the game and drove in two, while Derek Birginske tied his career high with two hits in the contest, which he’s done eight times.
• Garrett Rucker tied a career high with three hits in the series finale on Saturday, while Drew Tipton set a new career high with three in the 8-7 win along with a career-high two RBI. Grant Hawkins tied his career high with three runs scored, while Joe Schrimpf had three RBI to get to 23 on the year, which is just one RBI behind Justin Felix and Jeremy Brown for the team high. Tyler Zuber earned the win with four innings out of the bullpen to improve to 3-0, but allowed five runs, the first time this season he’s allowed more than one run in a game. Zuber now has a career record of 17-8. Tyler Mitzel started and registered a good start with five innings and just two runs allowed on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
THE RUNNIN’ RED WOLVES
• A-State has the 26th most steals nationally with 44 on the year and is third in the league in the category. The Red Wolves stole five bases against Austin Peay March 22, all in the same inning, which is the most by the Red Wolves this season in one inning. A-State has only stole five bases in a game nine times since 2002 and stole seven bases against NYIT in the second game of a Feb. 18 doubleheader for the most steals in a game since 2002. The Red Wolves stole three bases against SEMO with all three coming in the April 4 contest. Grant Hawkins, Alex Howard, and Drew Tipton each had a steal in the game, while Hawkins was picked off and caught stealing in the April 5 game against the Redhawks.
• 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 an 13-for 15 mark stealing with the 13 steals ranking as 28th most in the country and second most in the conference. Garrett Rucker has eight steals on the year to rank 10th in the conference, while Drew Tipton is third on the team with six steals. 11 different players have stolen a base for the team this season.
PUNCHING THEM OUT
• The Red Wolves are third in the SBC with 261 strikeouts and that comes out to a 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings ratio that is third in the league and 24th in the country. However, the Red Wolves are first in the league as a team with 94 strikeouts looking with Coastal Carolina as the next closest team at 73.
• Bryan Ayers is seventh in the conference with 44 punch outs, while Tyler Zuber is tied for eighth with 41 despite only throwing 28.2 innings so far this season. Additionally, Ayers is first in the league in strikeouts looking with 22 issued, while Peyton Culbertson and Tanner Kirby are tied for seventh with 12 apiece.
• Bryan Ayers is third in the league with an 11.00 strikeouts-per-nine mark.
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 48 times this season, which is the most in the conference and 8th in the nation. A-State was only hit twice in two games against Southeast Missouri.
• Jake Bakamus has already been hit 12 times and ranks fifth 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 is second on the team and second in the conference with nine HBP’s to rank 32nd in the nation. Jeremy Brown is third on the team and third in the league with seven on the year, while Alex Howard is now sixth in the league with six hit-by-pitches. 12 different players have been hit with a pitch for the Red Wolves this season.
245 AND COUNTING FOR RAFFO
• A-State head coach Tommy Raffo is now 245-243-1 in his ninth season. The 245 wins are the third most in school history behind Bill Bethea (311) and J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson (363).
• 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.
• 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.”
• 12 of the 16 newcomers have made an appearance this season.
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.