JONESBORO, Ark. (3/18/17) – The Arkansas State baseball team dropped the first game of a doubleheader against ULM by a score of 5-3 to open Sun Belt Conference play, but rebounded with a 12-6 victory in game two to earn a split Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium.
The teams had to play a doubleheader after Friday’s contest was postponed due to inclement weather in the area. A-State is now 10-8 on the season and 1-1 in league play, while ULM is now 5-15 and 1-1.
The Red Wolves scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning of the nightcap after ULM scored an unearned run in the top half when Joe Schrimpf singled home one run, Jeremy Brown knocked in two, and another scored on a wild pitch. A-State extended the lead to 6-1 the next inning when Grant Hawkins hit his second home run of the day to plate two runs.
However, ULM struck back within one run after a two-run homer by Chad Bell, a RBI single by Nathan Reynolds, and a sacrifice fly by Johnny DeLaCruz in the top of the fourth inning off A-State starter Peyton Culbertson. The visitors then tied the game in top of the sixth inning on a RBI ground out by Reynolds, but Arkansas State plated three runs on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Rucker and two-run single up-the-middle by Brown to take a 9-6 edge.
The home team plated three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, including the first career RBI by Tobias Johnson, to take complete control of the game at 12-6. Tyler Zuber allowed a lead-off single in the top of the ninth, but a 6-4-3 double play and pop up ended the game as Zuber tossed 3.1 innings out of the bullpen to earn his first win of the season. The White Hall, Ark., native allowed two hits and didn’t walk a batter while striking out two.
Hawkins led the Red Wolves with three hits and scored three runs along with knocking in three runs, while Brown had four RBI in the game. Turner Francis, Spencer Hemphill, Blake Buckman, and Reynolds all had two hits in the losing effort for the Warhawks. Culbertson lasted 5.2 for the Red Wolves and allowed six runs (four earned) on nine hits, while Matthew Reeves was one of seven pitchers ULM used in the game and was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs in 0.2 innings.
A-State started the scoring in game one when Hawkins left the yard for his first career home run, a solo shot in the bottom of the third. However, ULM scored four runs in the fourth and fifth innings with the first coming on a bases-loaded balk by Bryan Ayers. The next three occurred in the fifth when Chad Bell ripped a three-run, opposite-field home run to left off Ayers. The home team battled back to within 4-3 when Schrimpf hit a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth and added another run on a RBI fielder’s choice by Brown.
However, ULM added another run to go ahead 5-3 in the seventh and Anthony Herrera came in from shortstop to throw the last 2.2 innings on the bump to pick up his second save of the year. Herrera only allowed one hit as he clinched the win for Josh Leone, who allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Ayers took the loss to fall to 2-2 on the year after pitching 6.1 innings and allowing five runs (all earned) on 10 hits with seven punch outs and two walks.
Schrimpf and Hawkins had two hits in the game for the Red Wolves, while Cade Harper had three hits and Bell drove in three for the Warhawks.
The rubber game between the Red Wolves and Warhawks will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday at Tomlinson Stadium.For the latest on A-State baseball follow the team by logging onto the Arkansas State Baseball Facebook page or by following the team on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and Instagram (arkansasstatebaseball).