JONESBORO, Ark. (4/15/12) - Junior John Koch earned his eighth save of the season and the 12th of his career - both new Arkansas State records - as the Red Wolves defeated Western Kentucky 6-3 Sunday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
The win, coupled with the Red Wolves' 5-0 victory in the Friday night series opener, gave ASU a 2-1 victory over the Hilltoppers in the Sun Belt Conference weekend series. With the victory, ASU improves to 21-16 on the season and 10-5 in Sun Belt action. Western Kentucky slips to 14-21 on the year and 6-9 in league play.
At the midway point of conference play, ASU sits alone in second place, two games behind Florida Atlantic, which sits at 12-3. The Red Wolves travel to Boca Raton next weekend to take on FAU in a three-game series beginning April 20.
Arkansas State scored two in the first and two in the second to jump out to a 4-0 lead before the Hilltoppers got on the board with a run in the fourth. The Red Wolves matched the effort in the bottom of the inning, but Western Kentucky scored twice with one out in the fifth to cut the ASU advantage to 5-3, getting a two-run double from third baseman Casey Dykes.
With two runners aboard, Western Kentucky threatened to add more in the fifth, but ASU sophomore Bradley Wallace went to the mound and coaxed WKU right fielder Ryan Hutchison into a double play to end the threat. From there, senior Brandon Farley (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win, and Koch did not allow a baserunner in the final two frames to earn the save.
"The game played really early today," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "We were able to jump them pretty quickly with a pretty good pitcher on the mound. They had some moments in the fourth and fifth, and we had to make some moves to get things organized, but we got the big pitch from Bradley Wallace, and then we were able to go with Farley and Koch, which was very encouraging for our club."
The Red Wolves used an RBI double from first baseman Zach George and a run-scoring single from left fielder Logan Uxa to put their two first-inning runs on the board, then got RBI singles from George and second baseman Zach Maggio in the second to go up 4-0.
Maggio drove in another run in the fourth to put the Red Wolves up 5-1, and an RBI single from center fielder Michael Faulkner in the eighth drove in catcher Stuart Levy, who got aboard with a one-out triple, to score ASU's sixth run of the game.
Faulkner also wrote his name in the ASU record books Sunday afternoon, stealing two bases to tie the Arkansas State single-season record of 29 set by Jerome Miller in 1978.
Maggio, who hit .615 in the series with the Hilltoppers, led ASU at the plate Sunday, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Levy also was 3-for-4 on the day, and first baseman Kelby Chowning went 1-for-2 with a run scored to lead WKU. ASU out-hit the 'Toppers 14-5 on the afternoon.
Starter Taylor Haydel took the loss on the mound for the Hilltoppers, giving up five runs on five hits, with five strikeouts and a walk in 4.2 innings of work.
The Red Wolves will be back in action April 17 when they travel to Cape Girardeau, Mo. to take on the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State.