Game Notes: @AStateBaseball Travels to Austin Peay
|Arkansas State at Austin Peay
March 21-22, 2017 | 6:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m.
Clarksville, Tenn. | Raymond C. Hand Park
Radio: 95.3 FM The Ticket | TV: None | Video: None
| Video/Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | Game Notes: A-State | Austin Peay
A-STATE/AUSTIN PEAY SERIES HISTORY
• A-State leads the all-time series with the Governors by a count of 8-5 after the two teams first played during the 1995 season, which was a 5-3 Austin Peay win in Jonesboro. A-State’s first win in the series was the following year in 1996, a 14-6 victory in Clarksville, Tenn., but Arkansas State lost the next game 8-4. The two teams played two times each from 1997-99 with the Red Wolves going 5-1 in those six games.
• Red Wolves head coach Tommy Raffo is 2-2 against Austin Peay in his career. A-State took two-of-three from the Governors in 2011 in a home series at Tomlinson Stadium. The Red Wolves won the first two games 11-2 and 6-1 before falling in the finale 9-2. The two teams met again in the 2012 Austin Peay Invitational with the Governors claiming a 10-9 victory in 11 innings.
• The Red Wolves and Governors were scheduled to play two games in Jonesboro last season, but only got four innings into game one before the rains came. A-State was on top 6-2 with one out in the top of the fifth inning, two outs from the game becoming official, whenever the heavy rain hit on March 8, 2016. The rainfall also washed out a potential game two the following day March 9.
• Austin Peay enters the midweek games with a 10-9 mark on the year and 4-2 record in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Governors defeated Southern Illinois earlier in the year by a score of 10-3 Feb. 21 and play the Salukis later in the year to represent on of two common opponents between the two schools this year. Austin Peay plays Southeast Missouri in conference play March 31-April 2, while A-State plays the Redhawks April 4 and April 5. The Governors own a victory over No. 6 N.C. State earlier in the season.
NOTES FROM ULM SERIES
• The Red Wolves improved to 37-29 all-time against ULM after winning the last two games of a three-game series against the Warhawks by scores of 12-6 and 8-3 after dropping the first game 5-3.
• Arkansas State has now won 11 conference-opening series as a member of the Sun Belt, but fell to 10-16 in SBC openers with the 5-3 loss. Coach Raffo is 5-4 in conference openers and has won six of nine SBC-opening series in his tenure. This was the first series win to open a season since 2014 and A-State has now lost three straight Sun Belt openers. Friday’s opener got moved to Saturday because of lightning and rain Friday night to mark the third straight season the Red Wolves haven’t been able to play their conference opener on Friday night and had to wait until a Saturday doubleheader. In 2015 A-State had to move its home series against UT Arlington Jackson, Miss., and play a doubleheader due to snow and ice in Jonesboro before last season’s opener at UTA was moved to Friday due to rain that moved through the Arlington area.
• Joe Schrimpf hit .500 and scored four runs during the series and hit a double and his second home run of the season in the opener. Jeremy Brown hit .400 and led the team with six RBI, while Grant Hawkins hit his first two career home runs on March 18, one in each game. The first was a solo shot, while the second one was a two-run round-tripper. Hawkins had three hits, scored three runs, and had three RBI in the second game with the three runs tying a season-high and the other two setting high marks this season.
• Bryan Ayers lasted a season-high 6.1 innings in the opener, but also gave up a season-high 10 hits, both of which were team-highs this year. Tyler Zuber earned his first win of the season in his first decision of the year in the second game March 18 after pitching 3.1 innings and allowing just two hits and striking out two with no walks. Tanner Kirby improved to 4-0 on the season after picking up the win on March 19. He pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning in game one March 18, but tossed three innings the next day and allowed just one hit and one walk, while striking out one. Zachary Patterson tossed two scoreless innings in the opener March 18 and hasn’t allowed a run in three straight innings.
NOTES FROM SIU GAME
• A-State fell to 23-48 all-time against the Salukis with a 4-2 loss March 15. The loss for the Red Wolves also snapped a six-game winning streak against Southern Illinois.
• Jeremy Brown hit his third home run of the season and sixth career round-tripper with a solo shot in the bottom of the first. The Festus, Mo., native also had a single and walked twice in the game.
• Collin Cahill made his fourth start of the season, but couldn’t get through the fourth inning. The A-State bullpen of Tanner Kirby, Tyler Mitzel, Zachary Patterson, and Tyler Zuber finished the game and allowed just one run on four hits with six strikeouts against one walk. Kirby and Zuber lead the Red Wolves with seven appearances each.
NOTES FROM LOUISIANA TECH SERIES
• Arkansas State is now 38-79 all-time against Louisiana Tech after splitting the doubleheader March 10. The third game was cancelled due to snow in the Jonesboro area. A-State lost game one 19-3 before bouncing back for a 6-5 victory over the 24th-ranked Bulldogs in game two. The win for the Red Wolves was their first over a ranked opponent this season and first since defeating No. 6 Ole Miss on May 17, 2016. It was the first weekend loss of the season for Louisiana Tech.
• Garrett Rucker opened the scoring in game one with a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning for his second of the season and fourth of his career. Grant Hawkins hit his first career triple in the game and drove home a run, while Alex Howard doubled to give him his fifth of the year, second most on the team. Austin Powell had a pinch-hit double in the contest for his first career extra-base hit, but there weren’t too many more positives than that in the 19-3 loss. The 16-run margin of defeat was the most for an A-State team since a 20-2 loss to South Alabama April 13, 2013.
• The second game of the double dip featured A-State falling behind 3-0 and again at 4-3 but coming back to earn the win 6-5. Justin Felix left the yard for the third time this season in the sixth inning to tie the game 4-4 and also gave the Red Wolves the lead 6-5 after grounding into a double play. Felix also hit his team-leading eighth double in the game. Garrett Rucker was 2-for-2 and stole his sixth base of the season along with walking twice to give him a team-high 13 walks. Grant Hawkins stole his 11th base of the season, while Derek Birginske checked in with his first steal of the year. Tanner Kirby gave up one run in two innings of work, but picked up the win to improve to 3-0 on the season. Tyler Zuber worked two scoreless frames to close the game and picked up his third save of the season, which is the most on the team.
• Arkansas State has hit nine triples so far this season, which is the most in the Sun Belt
Conference and ninth in the nation.
• Garrett Rucker has already hit four triples, including one March 19 against ULM, to lead the league and rank third in the country. The four triples already ranks as a tie for the eighth most in a single season in school history. Five different players have tripled for A-State so far this season.
• Last season the Red Wolves set the school record for three-baggers with 22, breaking the record of 20 that had stood since the 1949 season.
THE RUNNIN’ RED WOLVES
• A-State has the 25th most steals nationally with 32 on the year, but are now ranked third in the conference behind Texas State and Coastal Carolina. However, A-State was 1-for-1 in its series against ULM with Tobias Johnson stealing his first career bag for the team.
• 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 11-for 12 mark stealing with the 11 steals ranking as 11th most in the country. Garrett Rucker has six steals on the year to rank ninth in the
conference, while Drew Tipton has five steals. Nine different players for the Red Wolves have a steal on the season.
PUNCHING THEM OUT
• The Red Wolves are fourth in the SBC with 188 strikeouts as a pitching staff in just 167 innings of work this season. That comes out to a 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings ratio that is second in the league to Louisiana-Lafayette’s 10.8 mark and 13th in the country. However, the Red Wolves are first in the league as a team with 66 strikeouts looking.
• Bryan Ayers is second in the conference with 38 punch outs, while Tyler Zuber is tied for 9th with 29 despite only throwing 18.1 innings so far this season. Additionally, Ayers is first in the league in strikeouts looking with 19 issued.
• Ayers ranks 41st in the nation in strikeouts. Ayers also has a 12.51 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio and ranks second in the league and 35th in the country.
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 34 times this season, which is the most in the conference and 7th in the nation. A-State got hit six times against ULM, but all six times were in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader and represent the most times the team has been hit in a game this year.
• Jake Bakamus has already been hit nine times and ranks third 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 seven HBP’s with Alex Howard third on the squad with four. 12 different players have been hit with a pitch for the Red Wolves this season.
241 AND COUNTING FOR RAFFO
• A-State head coach Tommy Raffo is now 241-237-1 in his ninth season. The 239 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.
• 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.