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A-State is now 11-13 on the season and 3-6 in Sun Belt play after taking two of three from Louisiana March 29-31. The series win over the Ragin’ Cajuns was the first since the 2012 campaign when A-State took two of three in Lafayette, La.
The Red Wolves received quality starts from Bradey Welsh and Nate Alberius this weekend to give the team 14 this season. Welsh has four, while Alberius has a team-best six. The team had a string of five straight snapped in Sunday’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Nate Alberius tossed a complete game in Friday’s 14-2 win over Louisiana for the team’s first complete game since April 26, 2016 when Peyton Culbertson did so against UAPB in a seven-inning game that was shortened due to weather. Alberius’s nine-inning complete game was the first since Cody Jackson did so on April 22, 2016 against ULM.
Senior outfielder/first baseman Winston Welch had a monster series against the Cajuns. He posted a triple-slash line of .636/.714/1.000 with seven hits in 11 at-bats, including a double and his third homer of the season. The Tucson, Ariz., native also scored four runs, walked three times, didn’t strike out, and didn’t make an error in right field.
A-State vs. Southeast Missouri In-Depth Series History
A-State leads the all-time series with Southeast Missouri by a count of 38-33. The series began in 1959 with an A-State 3-1 win. SEMO bounced back to claim an 11-2 win in the 1960 game, but A-State won five straight contests from 1961 to the first game between the two schools in 1963. The Red Wolves won three games in the 1962 season against the Redhawks, including a 6-2 win in the Southwest Regional. SEMO broke the streak with 4-0 and 5-4 wins to end A-State’s 1963 campaign.
Arkansas State and Southeast Missouri played in the 1967 NCAA Midwest Regional of the College Division with A-State claiming a 12-6 decision. The Red Wolves defeated the Redhawks in 1968 6-1, but didn’t resume the series for 20 years until SEMO took two games in 1988.
The two teams have played every season since 1988 with the series now tied 27-27 after A-State’s win earlier this season.
Head coach Tommy Raffo is now 10-9 against the Redhawks after the Feb. 20 7-6 win over Southeast Missouri. The two teams have split the last six meetings with the home team winning each of the last three.
A-State claimed a 7-6 victory Feb. 20 when Jacob Jablonski was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. A-State led 6-4 entering the ninth, but Trevor Ezell doubled on a fly ball to left field to score two that tied the game. Nate Alberius went 6.1 innings in his first start and allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts and left in line for the win. Payton Lannon tossed a scoreless inning in relief, while Jesse Kutzke got the win after blowing the save. Tobias Johnson had three hits and two RBI in his first start of the season while Logan Andersen had two hits and a RBI. Ezell led SEMO with two hits and four runs driven in.
Notes from Louisiana Series
A-State is now 41-83 after winning two of three against the Ragin’ Cajuns March 29-31. The series win for the Red Wolves was the first since 2012. It was just the 10th series win for A-State over Louisiana all-time.
The Red Wolves were able to come from behind in the series opener with an 8-7 win in 12 innings. A-State is now 2-1 in extra-inning contests and the 12 innings is the longest game of the season after the other two were finished in 11 frames. Bradey Welsh went six innings and posted his fourth quality start and struck out a career-high 10 in the game, while Bo Ritter didn’t allow a hit over the final 2.2 innings to earn his first win of the 2018 campaign.
Winston Welch paced the A-State offense with a 5-for-5 night and two RBI. The five hits are the most by an A-State player this season and he also hit his third long ball of the season tying him with Tobias Johnson, Jaylon Deshazier, and Kyle MacDonald for the team lead. Casey Vaughan recorded a season-best three hits, while Andrew Leggo had his second multi-hit game of the season and drove in a run.
The Red Wolves clinched the series win with a 14-2 victory over the Cajuns behind a complete game from Nate Alberius. Alberius allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and seven punch outs. The complete game was the first nine-inning complete game since Cody Jackson versus ULM April 22, 2016. It also gave Alberius a team-best sixth quality start.
Eight of A-State’s nine starters got a hit in the 14-2 win with Jeremy Brown leading the way with three, while Tobias Johnson and Kyle MacDonald had three RBI each.
However, the team couldn’t complete the sweep as Colten Schmidt threw a complete game for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the 6-1 win. Jeremy Brown led the team with two hits, while Winston Welch had one to push his on-base streak to 10 games and hit streak to five.
Coulton Lee pitched in the game to run his career appearance total to 80 games. The 80 career appearances are the fifth most in school history and five away from tying Ryan Hamilton for fourth most all-time.
Bryan Ayers tossed a season-high 3.1 shutout innings in relief.
Notes from ULM Series
A-State is now 38-31 against ULM all-time after dropping two of three to the Warhawks March 23-25. Head coach Tommy Raffo is 20-11 all-time against ULM.
The Red Wolves were shut out in two of the three games losing Friday 2-0 with Bradey Welsh taking a tough-luck loss despite his third quality start. The Red Wolves and Warhawks then played to a 0-0 tie with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before a walk-off grand slam sent ULM to a 4-0 win. Peyton Culbertson posted his second quality start of the year after shutting ULM out for seven innings.
In between those two shutouts was the best offensive effort in school history with a 31-7 win to break the previous school record of 28, set back in 1992 in a 28-13 win over Memphis to end the season. The 31 runs eclipsed the mark of 27 during the Raffo era, which occurred on March 11, 2014 at Murray State in a 27-7 win.
A-State also tied the school records for home runs in a game (8) and hits (26). The eight homers tied the mark set at UALR on April 10, 2005 and the Red Wolves entered the game with just seven on the year. The 26 hits tied a record set in 1994 versus Little Rock. Additionally, the team drove in 29 of those runs to break the record of 26 in the 1992 game against Memphis.
On a national scale the eight home runs are tied for the second most in a NCAA Division I game this season, while the 31 runs are tied for the fourth most in the nation this year. Arkansas State tallied 54 total bases in the game for the second most in school history and the second most in the country so far in 2018.
10 different players picked up hits in the contest, while nine drove in runs. Tobias Johnson went 4-for-6 with a career-best six RBI as the Curtis, Wash., native hit two home runs, tripled, and scored four runs. Winston Welch also notched a four-hit effort for a career high and hit the first two round trippers of his career. A native of Tucson, Ariz., Welch drove in a career-best four runs and scored a career-high four times.
Nate Alberius tossed his team-high fifth quality start in the win and fifth in six starts to begin his A-State career.
Arkansas State had its third walk-off victory of the season in the March 29 8-7 win over Louisiana when Caleb Squire was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning. It is A-State’s 29th walk-off win under Tommy Raffo and only the second by HBP with the other occurring this season when A-State beat SEMO 7-6 on a HBP by Jacob Jablonski. The other walk off this season was a single by Drew Tipton to give A-State a 9-8 win against SIU March 13.
15 of those walk-offs have been singles after Tipton’s hit March 13 versus the Salukis. Before that the last was 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 six of the 13 being singles. During that time frame, two have been via wild pitch, fielder’s choice, and hit-by-pitch, while one was by sacrifice fly.
Five of the walk-off wins have been by scores of 4-3, while four have been by scores of 3-2, 7-6, and 8-7. 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.
Three of them have now been by scores of 9-8, but all three have been extra-inning affairs. The first was a walk-off walk by Murray Watts on April 24, 2010 before last season’s 9-8, 18-inning win with Justin Felix’s walk-off single, followed by Drew Tipton’s single to give A-State a 9-8 win in 11 innings over Southern Illinois March 13.
269 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 269-269-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 269 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.