JONESBORO, Ark. (4/13/12) - Senior Jacob Lee threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and striking out five along the way to lead the Arkansas State Red Wolves to a 5-0 Sun Belt Conference victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
With the win, ASU improved to 20-15 on the year and 9-5 in SBC action, giving Tommy Raffo his 100th victory as ASU's head coach. Western Kentucky slipped to 13-20 on the season and 5-8 in league action.
Lee's five strikeouts bring his career total to 250 - just one short of the ASU career record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg from 1967-70. After Lee carried the Red Wolves into the seventh inning, picking up his fourth win of the season against just one loss, relievers Brandon Farley and John Koch threw one inning each to complete the shutout. Farley struck out the final three batters he faced in the eighth and Koch wrapped up the win with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.
ASU scored once in the third, twice in the fourth, once in the sixth and once more in the eighth, out-hitting the Hilltoppers 11-6 on the night. The Red Wolves did not commit an error in the game.
"Pitching and defense were big keys," said Raffo. "We got an outstanding start from Jacob, who made quality pitches when he needed them. Farley and Koch came in, and you can't say enough about their performances. Then we just had to grind through the game to add runs, add runs and add runs."
First baseman Zach George broke a scoreless tie in the third when he reached on a fielder's choice to drive in a run and put the Red Wolves on the scoreboard. RBI singles from shortstop Dustin Jones and center fielder Michael Faulkner increased ASU's lead to 3-0 in the fourth. A bases-loaded walk by left fielder Logan Uxa plated Arkansas State's run in the sixth and a sacrifice fly from George in the eighth sent home A-State's final run.
Faulkner went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI to lead ASU at the plate, with second baseman Zach Maggio adding a 3-for-5 effort. Shortstop Steve Hodgins went 1-for-3 with a double to lead WKU. Starter Justin Hageman (2-4) took the loss on the mound for the Hilltoppers, giving up four runs on eight hits. Hageman walked seven and struck out three.
The Red Wolves and Hilltoppers will resume the series Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
GAME ONE NOTES
- Jacob Lee's career strikeout total now stands at 250, just one short of the ASU career strikeout record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg in 1967-70.
- When he reached base in the second on a fielder's choice, freshman right fielder Collin Massanelli extended his team-high on-base streak to 19 games.
- The win was head coach Tommy Raffo's 100th career victory - all at Arkansas State.
- The shutout victory was ASU's first of the season.