|Red Wolves Open Sun Belt Play With 7-3 Victory Over...|
JONESBORO, Ark. (3/16/12) - Senior Jacob Lee struck out seven batters in 7.1 innings, and center fielder Michael Faulkner went 4-for-5 with two stolen bases, two runs scored and another driven in to lead the Arkansas State Red Wolves to a 7-3 victory over the UALR Trojans in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
With the win, ASU improved to 9-8 on the season and 1-0 in SBC play, while UALR dropped to 13-6, 0-1. The Red Wolves out-hit the Trojans 15-7 on the night after UALR came into the game as the Sun Belt's top offensive team, leading the league with a team batting average of .328. Lee, along with relievers Brandon Farley and John Koch, combined to hold the Trojans to a .212 average on the night.
Arkansas State did most of its damage in the first three innings, scoring three times in the first, once in the second and once again in the third. Designated hitter Ryan Emery put the Red Wolves on the scoreboard with a two-run home run in the first, and an RBI single from third baseman Claude Johnson later in the inning gave the Red Wolves a 3-0 advantage.
"It was a good effort on our part," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "They have a really good pitcher on the bump on Friday night and we were able to throw the first punch tonight. That was something that we had not done all year. And Jacob Lee was outstanding. It was a stellar performance on his part tonight against a very good hitting club."
The Red Wolves added a run in the second when Faulkner singled and eventually scored on a passed ball, and an RBI single from Faulkner in the third gave the Red Wolves a 5-0 advantage.
Second baseman Zach Maggio drove in a run when he reached on a fielder's choice in the seventh to extend the Arkansas State advantage to 6-0, before UALR scored once in the eighth when second baseman Chris Burk singled to drive in a run.
Arkansas State took advantage of a UALR error to get the run back in the bottom of the eighth to go up 7-1, and a two-run double from Trojan third baseman Bryson Thionnet in the ninth set the final at 7-3.
Lee gave up one run on five hits with three walks, to improve to 3-0 on the season. UALR starter Chance Cleveland suffered his first loss of the season after a 4-0 start. Cleveland gave up five runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings of work, striking out three and walking three.
Emery, right fielder Kaleb Brown and shortstop Dustin Jones all added two hits for Arkansas State, while shortstop Greg Garcia and center fielder Cameron Bentley both went 2-for-4 to lead UALR.
The Red Wolves and Trojans will resume the series Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Sunday's finale is set for 1:00 p.m.