JONESBORO, Ark. (5/4/12) - Facing the top-hitting team in the Sun Belt Conference, Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee gave up just one run on four hits in seven innings of work to lead the Red Wolves to an 8-1 victory over the Jaguars of South Alabama Friday night in the SBC series opener at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
Lee, who improved to 6-1 with the win, shut out the Jags over six innings before giving up the lone run in the seventh, striking out three batters on the night to raise his ASU career strikeout record to 260. Senior Brandon Farley came on to work the eighth and junior John Koch closed out the game in the ninth, with neither allowing a baserunner. South Alabama entered the weekend with a .326 batting average against league opponents, but ASU's three pitchers combined to hold the Jags to a .129 average on the evening.
Arkansas State out-hit the Jaguars 10-4 on the night, led by center fielder Michael Faulkner, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Second baseman Zach Maggio added a 3-for-5 effort with a pair of doubles.
With the win, ASU improved to 24-19 overall and 13-7 in Sun Belt Conference action. South Alabama slipped to 18-28 on the year and 12-10 in league play.
"South Alabama is a very good hitting club, so you have to give credit to Lee, Farley and Koch," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "They did a good job, executed pitches when they needed to, and we played some catch behind them."
"We did a good job of getting on base as well," added Raffo. "We had some quality at-bats, and that's the key. To be able to score runs, you have to have guys up and down the lineup that can give you quality at-bats, and when you have that it really helps the offensive production."
The Red Wolves jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings, scoring three times in the first and twice in the second. Maggio led off the first with a double, and scored when first baseman Zach George reached on the first of two South Alabama errors in the inning. Left fielder Logan Uxa reached on a fielder's choice to score George, and Uxa scored from first later in the inning on the second Jaguar error of the frame to give the Red Wolves a 3-0 advantage.
An RBI single from Faulkner and a run-scoring sacrifice bunt from George gave Arkansas State a 5-0 lead after two.
South Alabama scored its only run in the seventh on an RBI single from right fielder Nolan Early, but ASU answered in the bottom of the inning when third baseman Claude Johnson delivered his team-high 13th double of the season to drive in a run and give the Red Wolves a 6-1 advantage. Faulkner sent a two-run single down the left field line in the eighth to set the final at 8-1.
Senior Phillip Byrd (3-3) took the loss on the mound for South Alabama, giving up five runs on six hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. Center fielder Jordan Patterson went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles to lead South Alabama at the plate.
The Red Wolves and Jaguars will resume the series Saturday at 4:00 p.m.