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A-State is now 18-30 on the year after dropping a 15-8 decision to No. 4 Ole Miss. The Red Wolves are 9-18 in league play.
Junior first baseman Kyle MacDonald hit two home runs against the Rebels to bring his season total to 13. It’s the third time this season an A-State player has hit two in a game with Tobias Johnson and Winston Welch being the other two in the March 24 win at ULM.
The 13 home runs for MacDonald are the most since the 2010 season when Murray Watts also hit 13. His slugging percentage is now .656, which is the best in the Sun Belt Conference and 40th in the nation. If the season ended today it would be the seventh best in school history.
Jacob Jablonski hit his first career home run, a three-run shot to right, in the sixth inning against Ole Miss. The three RBI were a career high.
If the SBC Tournament started today, A-State would be out of the event as the Red Wolves are in 11th place in the league standings.
A-State vs. Little Rock In-Depth Series History
A-State leads the all-time series with Little Rock by a count of 76-45 in a series that began in the 1975 season with A-State winning both contests in Jonesboro by scores of 4-3 and 6-1. The Trojans made the trip to Jonesboro again the following season and A-State took both contests by counts of 4-1 and 4-2. The two schools didn't play again until 1980 when Little Rock earned its first two victories in the all-time series by scores of 7-4 and 7-2 in Jonesboro.
The two teams played several times throughout the early 80's, but have played in each season from 1987 through the present. The two teams because foes in the Sun Belt Conference in 1992, but the five games during the 1992 campaign didn't count as league games. A-State won the first two games by scores of 7-2 and 2-1 in Little Rock before sweeping a three-game set in Jonesboro later in the year by scores of 12-5, 20-7, and 23-7. Since then all of the games played between the two games have counted on the conference standings or occurred during the SBC Tournament, although the two teams have only met once in the conference tournament (a 13-10 A-State loss in 2000).
Head coach Tommy Raffo is 27-11 against Little Rock all time. The team won two-of-three in Little Rock to close out the 2009 season in his first three meetings against them. The Trojans won the series 2-1 in 2010 and won two-of-three in the first series of 2011, but A-State reeled off 13 straight victories against Little Rock, including four series sweeps from the second series of 2011 through the first game of the second series during the 2013 campaign. The Trojans won two in a row to end the regular season that year to take the series. A-State swept Little Rock in the first series of 2014 under Raffo's watch, but lost two-of-three to the Trojans in Little Rock before the Red Wolves won the 2015 season's series in Jonesboro two games to one. In 2016, A-State took two of three from the Trojans in Little Rock. A-State dropped game one 9-4 before bouncing back to win games two and three (12-10 and 15-11) in comeback fashion.
Last season, the teams were only able to play two of the three scheduled games, but both of them were ones to remember. The Red Wolves won the first game of the series 9-8 in 18 innings, the longest SBC game in program history, on a walk-off single from Justin Felix. The game went to extras tied 6-6 but the Trojans scored two runs in the 16th, but A-State scored two in the bottom half to keep the game going. Bradey Welsh won the game with five innings in relief, while Justin Felix and Jake Bakamus tied the school record for walks with four. In game two of the set, A-State scored 19 runs on 18 hits and defeated Little Rock 19-2. The team tied the school record for hit-by-pitches with eight and saw Jeremy Brown, Justin Felix, and Alex Howard each total three RBI, while Grant Hawkins and Garrett Rucker had four hits.
Little Rock enters the weekend at 26-24 and 14-12 in SBC play. The Trojans lost to Central Arkansas Tuesday night 6-4.
Notes from Ole Miss Midweek
Arkansas State is now 25-86 all-time against Ole Miss after dropping a 15-8 midweek decision to the Rebels May 15. It was Ole Miss’s first win in Jonesboro since 2015.
Kyle MacDonald swatted two home runs in the game to give him 13 on the year. His .656 slugging percentage is tops in the SBC and 66 points higher than the next closest player. It would be the seventh best in school history if the season ended today. The 13 homers are now tied for fourth most in school history with Murray Watts (2010), Josh Yates (2006), and Reed Bredensteiner (1999). It’s the second most in the league this year and the 47th most in the country.
Jeremy Brown hit his 18th double of the year in the loss to the Rebels, which ties him for 12th most in school history in a single season. He now has 42 in his career, which is seventh most in school history.
Jacob Jablonski went 2-for-3 with a double and his first career home run in the game. It was a three-run shot which also gave him a career-best three RBI. Since coming off the bench in the May 4 game against Texas State he’s hitting .280 with a .357 on-base percentage.
Grant Hawkins hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the first for A-State. It was the team’s second lead-off homer after Drew Tipton hit one against UT Arlington April 15.
Casey Vaughan had a solid game with a 2-for-3 effort and two runs scored. He also registered his fifth outfield assist by throwing out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double. The five outfield assists are the most on the team.
There were a combined eight home runs in the game between both teams. Before last night the most combined homers in a home game this season was three on March 17 against Coastal Carolina. It is the most combined homers in a game at Tomlinson Stadium since May 13, 2007 when A-State and ULM totaled eight.
Notes from Georgia Southern Series
The Red Wolves are now 5-8 all-time against Georgia Southern with all 13 meetings coming with Tommy Raffo as head coach.
Bradey Welsh had his eighth quality start Friday night after allowing three runs in 6.1 innings with one walk and five strikeouts.
Drew Tipton extended his on-base streak to 26 games in the series and also now owns a five-game hit streak. He hit a double that was then bobbled in left field that allowed the winning run to score in A-State’s 6-5 walk-off win Friday night. The win in the 10th inning was A-State’s fourth walk-off of the season and improved the team to 3-1 in extra-inning contests this year. It’s the 30th walk-off during Raffo’s tenure.
Coulton Lee pitched in two of the games and didn’t allow a run in four innings of work and picked up the win in the May 11 game after a scoreless top of the 10th inning. He now has 92 career appearances to pass John Koch’s 91 for second most in school history.
Zachary Patterson pitched well Saturday after allowing an unearned run in three innings of work on no hits with four strikeouts. In his last two appearances combined Patterson has thrown six innings and allowed no earned runs with seven strikeouts against two walks.
Peyton Culbertson tossed a pair of scoreless innings in the Saturday game against the Eagles May 12. He’s had three scoreless appearances in five outings out of the bullpen.
Casey Vaughan drove in career-high four runs in the 6-5 win May 11.
Blake Wynn started all three games and had a hit in each game, including a career-best two in the May 12 contest.
Alberius Wins SBC Pitcher of the Week
A-State junior pitcher Nate Alberius took home Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance April 28 against South Alabama. He went 8.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits with two strikeouts against three walks. It was his team-high eighth quality start of the season.
He’s the first weekly award winner for A-State since Alex Howard picked up SBC Player of the Week honors in the last week of the regular season last year. However, Alberius is the first A-State pitcher since 2015 to win the award. Jon Glidewell was the recipient of that award March 10, while Tyler Zuber won it two weeks prior.
It’s the 12th weekly award winner since Tommy Raffo took over in 2009 and the seventh time A-State has won Pitcher of the Week.
276 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 276-286-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 276 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.