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A-State is now 6-3 on the year after a 13-5 victory over UT Martin Tuesday night in a game that was added to the schedule late due to A-State losing four games to rain on its nine-game home stand to open 2018.
Red Wolves’ starting pitchers have combined to post six straight quality starts, and have seven on the year. A-State only had 10 in 2017.
Sophomore catcher Cullen Ray went into Tuesday’s game 0-for-18 at the plate with two RBI, but got his first two hits of the season against the Skyhawks and swatted his first career home run to left field. The homer was of the three-run variety, while he added two more RBI on a single and ground out to give him a career-high five.
Nate Alberius registered his third straight quality start to open his career with seven innings pitched and struck out 11.
The Red Wolves made their debut in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Poll at #30.
A-State vs. Missouri State In-Depth Series History
A-State trails the all-time series with Missouri State with the team posting a 22-42 mark against the Bears. The series began in the 1964 season opener with the Red Wolves winning 5-3 and A-State won the first three games with scores of 16-3 and 3-2 represting the other time finals. Missouri State got on the in the last of four matchups during the 1964 season with a 2-0 win over Arkansas State.
The two teams didn’t play again until a couple of meetings in the 1982 season, both 4-2 losses by A-State. The series resumed in 1990 with four more losses by the Red Wolves and the two teams have played every season since then except for 1998.
A-State’s best run in the series was from 1994-97 with a 7-3 record against the Bears, including a 3-0 mark in 1994.
This will be just the third three-game weekend series the two teams have played. The first was in Jonesboro in 2003 and the second was in 2006 in Springfield. A-State is 2-4 in those games with both wins coming in the final game of each series.
Head coach Tommy Raffo is 3-10 against Missouri State. A-State lost both games in his first season before winning one of two in 2010. The Red Wolves won the only meeting in 2011 after the first game was rained out in Jonesboro. Missouri State swept two games in 2012 before A-State split in two games with a 7-5 win in the second game of 2013 to mark its last win in the series. The Red Wolves are on a four-game losing streak. The two teams were supposed to play two games in Jonesboro in 2015 and 2017, but weather wiped out one game each time.
Missouri State is currently 6-4 on the year and coming off a 10-8 midweek loss to Oklahoma State in the Bears’ home opener. Missouri State has a win over No. 24 East Carolina and split with Central Arkansas earlier in the season. A-State is 1-0 against the state of Missouri so far this season with a 7-6 win over SEMO Feb. 20. A-State will return the trip to SEMO April 3 and also plays Missouri twice.
Notes from UT Martin Game
A-State improved to 34-15-1 all-time against UT Martin with a 13-5 win March 6. The 13 runs are a season high for the Red Wolves and helped move Tommy Raffo to 4-2 against the Skyhawks.
Nate Alberius ran A-State’s string of quality starts to six with seven innings pitched and allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts. The 11 strikeouts are a season high by an A-State pitcher this season and a new career high for Alberius.
The quality start by Alberius was the sixth in a row and seventh of the season for the A-State pitching staff after having only 10 in 2017.
Grant Hawkins and Cullen Ray both left the yard for their first homers of the season and it was the first multi-home run game of the year for A-State.
Ray’s homer was the first of his career and he also knocked in five runs, a career-high, to tie him with Jaylon Deshazier for the team lead with seven. His two hits were the first of the season for him.
Jacob Jablonski had the first multi-hit game of his career in the win over UTM and he scored four runs to give him the most by an A-State player this season.
The Arkansas State pitching staff didn’t walk a single batter in the game and struck out 15, which is a season best for the team. A-State also didn’t walk a batter in the 9-0 win over Mississippi Valley State Feb. 27. The Red Wolves didn’t have a single game without issuing a walk last season and the last time before the MVSU game was April 26, 2016 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a seven-inning game.
Notes from New Orleans Series
A-State improved to 27-50 all-time against New Orleans by winning two-of-three against the Privateers March 2-4. Head coach Tommy Raffo is now 6-3 all-time against UNO.
The Red Wolves lost the series opener 2-1 in 11 innings in the team’s first extra-inning contest of the season. Bradey Welsh posted his second quality start of the season and allowed his first run of the year. He went a career-high eight innings with five strikeouts against one walk and three hits allowed.
The March 3 game was a coming out party for the offense as the Red Wolves scored a season-high 12 runs on a season-best 15 hits in the 12-3 win over UNO to even the series.
Jaylon Deshazier made his first career start March 3 and did not disappoint as he went 4-for-5 with seven RBI. He hit the first grand slam of the season for A-State and the seven RBI were one shy of tying Shane Eaker’s record he set in 1992 against Little Rock. He also had a two-run double and run-scoring single in the game. The Pine Bluff, Ark., native added two more hits in the series finale to give him six hits in the first 10 at-bats of his career. The seven RBI are the most by a player during the Tommy Raffo era at A-State.
The pitching was also solid again March 3 with Coulton Lee picking up his first win of the season and posting a quality start. The Benton, Ark., native allowed three runs in six innings with three strikeouts against two walks. Bo Ritter checked in to pitch the final three innings of the game and earn the save. The Hot Springs, Ark., native didn’t allow a run on two hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Logan Andersen also had a four-hit game March 3 and scored three runs, the most by an A-State player this season.
Peyton Culbertson kept the solid efforts on the mound rolling March 4 by tying his career high with eight innings of one-run ball to earn his first win. The quality start gave A-State four quality starts during the week. Jesse Kutzke came in to get the final out of the game for his second save of the season with a strikeout after UNO was able to send the tying-run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Tobias Johnson swatted his first career home run in the top of the first. He added two more RBI later in the game for a career-high three runs driven in. Caleb Squire also picked up the first two hits of his career and first two RBI of his career in the win. Grant Hawkins stole a base to give him a team-high five on the season.
With Arkansas State’s 7-6 walk-off win over Southeast Missouri, the team now has 27 walk-off victories since Tommy Raffo became head coach in 2009. However, the walk-off HBP was the first of its kind during that time frame.
14 of those walk-offs have been singles, the last coming when Justin Felix knocked in the winning run of A-State’s 9-8 win over Little Rock in 18 innings May 19, 2017. A-State has won on three walk-off wild pitches under Raffo, while errors, sacrifice flies, fielder’s choices, and home runs have happened twice. Only once has the walk-off win occurred on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The two home runs were a three-run homer by Zach George against ULM April 6, 2012 for a 7-6 win and a solo shot by Alex Potts to beat FAU March 23, 2013 by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings.
Head coach Tommy Raffo’s first victory was a walk-off win against Texas State in Arlington, Texas against Texas State when Josh DeMoney singled home Cody Pace for a 4-3 win in 10 innings.
Since 2014, the walk-off wins have been less traditional with only five of the 11 being singles. During that time frame, two have been via wild pitch and fielder’s choice, while the other two were on a sacrifice fly and hit-by-pitch.
Five of the walk-off wins have been by scores of 4-3, while four have been by scores of 3-2 and now 7-6, each. A-State has had one walk-off victory by a 1-0 score, which was last season versus SIU when A-State won a walk-off wild pitch. The highest scoring walk-off win was a 13-12 win May 26, 2016 against Troy. Tanner Ring capped A-State’s comeback in that SBC Tournament game after being behind 12-4.
Rain, Rain Go Away
A-State’s weekend series with UAB was cancelled due to heavy rainfall after the series was set to begin Saturday, Feb. 24 with a doubleheader after Friday’s game was moved. However, it didn’t stop raining much throughout the weekend and field conditions were too poor to play.
The Red Wolves also had to cancel the second game of a two-game midweek series against Mississippi Valley Feb. 28 due to inclement weather.
This is the first entire weekend to be wiped out due to weather since the 2006 season when A-State was scheduled to play ULM and Mississippi Valley State to open the season. However, the whole weekend was cancelled due to weather, but A-State was able to get Henderson State to come play a single game on Sunday for its season opener.
With the four cancelled games against UAB and Mississippi Valley State, along with Feb. 17’s Illinois State contest having to be moved to a Sunday doubleheader, the team has already had five games altered due to weather.
264 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 264-259-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 264 wins are the third most at the school behind J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson and Bill Bethea.
Raffo has a completely new staff to assist him this season. Rick Guarno joined the staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with his most recent stint at UT Martin. Guarno played seven seasons of professional baseball before getting into coaching.
Rowdy Hardy is the team’s new pitching coach and comes to A-State from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M. He played six seasons of professional baseball before getting into coaching.
Volunteer assistant Craig Massoni rounds out the staff and he just concluded his playing days after five seasons of professional baseball.