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A-State is 7-5 on the year after dropping two of three to Missouri State March 9-11. A-State lost the first game to the Bears 12-4 before bouncing back to win game two 4-1. The Red Wolves lost a tough game three by a score of 5-4 to lose the series.
Coulton Lee went a career-high seven innings in the 4-1 win over Missouri State March 10 and struck out a career-high seven. He posted a quality start, his second of the season, and the team’s eighth after only having 10 a season ago.
Jaylon Deshazier homered in A-State’s 4-1 win March 10, while Kyle MacDonald left the yard in the loss on March 11. Both players now have two home runs this season to tie for the team lead. Deshazier also has nine RBI, tied with Grant Hawkins for the most on the team.
Grant Hawkins had a solid weekend with a .444 average against Missouri State and drove in a team-best three runs. He hit his first triple of the season and stole a base while reaching base at a .667 clip. He also played error-free defense at short and led the team with three assists.
Andrew Leggo made his first career start March 11 and rewarded the team with two hits and two runs scored.
A-State vs. Southern Illinois In-Depth Series History
A-State trails the all-time series with Southern Illinois by a count of 24-48. The Red Wolves and Salukis met for the first time in 1948 with A-State winning the first two games by scores of 3-2 and 8-6. Arkansas State won the first game in 1949 by a score of 14-2 in Jonesboro before SIU got on the board with a 6-3 win in Carbondale later in the year.
The two teams played every season from 1948 to 1957 with SIU leading the series by a count of 13-6, including a sweep of four games in the 1953 campaign. However, the Salukis dominated the series when it resumed in 1963 to the tune of a 24-2 mark through 1978 with the two teams playing most years during that time frame. A-State won the first game in 1963 1-0 and won again in 1966 5-0, but Southern Illinois won 16 straight after that.
The series picked up again in 1988 with A-State splitting four games with SIU. The teams played 17 games from 1988 through 1996 with the Red Wolves holding a slight 9-8 mark. The series resumed again in 2008 with A-State taking a loss.
Head coach Tommy Raffo took over in 2009 and currently has a 7-2 mark against Southern Illinois in his tenure. Raffo lost the first meeting 10-3 in Carbondale, but A-State won 14-5 and 5-3 the following year to open up the season. A-State won 4-3 in 2011, but the two squads didn’t play again until 2015 when the Red Wolves won 10-8 at SIU. A-State swept the two meetings in 2016, including a 1-0 walk-off win on a wild pitch at Tomlinson Stadium before the two teams split a season ago. A-State dropped a 4-2 decision in Jonesboro before winning 4-3 in 10 innings at Southern Illinois after a RBI double by Jake Bakamus.
Southern Illinois enters the game with an 8-8 record, but has won five straight after sweeping Northern Illinois. ULM swept the Salukis earlier in the season and SIU defeated SEMO 5-0 in the only matchup of common opponents so far this year. The Salukis are the second and final team on the schedule from Illinois this season after A-State dropped two of three to Illinois State to begin the year. A-State goes to SIU March 27.
Notes from Missouri State Series
A-State is now 23-44 all-time against Missouri State after dropping two of three to the Bears March 9-11. A-State lost game one 12-4 before winning game two 4-1. The Red Wolves then lost the series in a heartbreaker 5-4 after leading 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth inning.
Not much went right in the 12-4 loss to open the series with Bradey Welsh getting tagged for seven runs in four innings to end A-State’s quality starts streak at six games. Chase Nix made his season debut and allowed four runs (three earned) in one inning of work, while Korey Wasson pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the second appearance of his young career. Carter Holt tossed two innings and allowed just one run.
Andrew Lannon subbed in for his first action of the season behind the plate and had two plate appearances, including a walk and was able to score his first career run. Blake Wynn subbed in and scored the first run of his career after reaching on a fielder’s choice.
Coulton Lee was able to improve to 2-1 on the year with his second straight quality start after setting career highs in innings pitched (7) and strikeouts (7). He only allowed four hits, walked one, and gave up one run. He retired the final 12 batters he faced after allowing a lead-off double in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Jesse Kutzke registered a two-out save in the win after entering the game in the eighth after two walks by Bryan Ayers. He retired all six batters he faced. The three saves are already halfway to the six that Tyler Zuber earned last year to lead the team.
Drew Tipton tied his career high and set a season high with three hits in the game. He also stole his second base of the season and ninth of his career.
Jaylon Deshazier broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run bomb into the left-field bullpen. He has two homers on the year, tied for the team lead, and nine RBI, also tied for tops on the squad.
The win on March 10 for the Red Wolves was the first over Missouri State since March 13, 2013 and broke a four-game losing streak. It was the first win in Springfield since 2010.
Peyton Culberton allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings and Bo Ritter came in and tied a season high with three innings pitched and retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, but did allow the tying run. A-State lost in walk-off fashion on a sacrifice fly for its second walk-off loss of the year.
Cullen Ray registered the first three-hit game of his career and hit his second career double, while Andrew Leggo had the first two hits of his career in his first start. Jeremy Brown returned from a four-game hiatus and saw his first career action at third base.
Grant Hawkins hit his first triple of the season, and fourth career, to extend his on-base streak to 12 games and hit streak to four games. He also stole a base in the series to give him six on the year.
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.
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.
National and Conference Rankings
A-State is first in the league in WHIP (1.25) and walks per nine innings (3.33) and ranks 49th and 58th, respectively, in the nation.
Grant Hawkins .550 OBP is second in the league 20th nationally.
Nate Alberius ranks second in the league and 25th in the country in K-to-BB ratio, while Bradey Welsh is first in the SBC in WHIP (0.81) and 52nd in the nation. Alberius’s 0.84 WHIP ranks fourth in the Sun Belt.
265 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 265-261-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 265 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.