|Red Wolves Fall to Troy in SBC Tournament|
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (5/25/12) — A five-run first inning was too much for second-seeded Arkansas State to overcome as the Red Wolves (33-22) fell to the sixth-seeded Troy Trojans 8-3 Friday afternoon in ASU’s second game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Bowling Green Ballpark.
Arkansas State closed within 5-3 in the in the fourth, but Troy reliever Nate Hill (7-2) came on to retire 17 of the 21 batters he faced to earn the win for the Trojans. Hill struck out eight batters in five and two-thirds innings of work, walking two and allowing two hits.
With a win over Troy, Arkansas State would have advanced to Sunday’s championship game against Louisiana-Monroe. Now, the Red Wolves must defeat Florida International in Saturday’s game two, and hope for a Middle Tennessee win over Troy (28-29) in the Saturday opener. Troy is now 2-0 in Pool B, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee are 1-1 and FIU is 0-2. An ASU victory over FIU, coupled with an MTSU victory over Troy would leave all three teams at 2-1, with Arkansas State winning the tiebreak as the higher seed.
“The five-spot put our offense in a hole,” said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. “They jumped us with the five runs, so we were trying to fight back and trying to get back in the game, we just never made it even again. We had to make a move to the bullpen in the first inning, and we scored a few runs and tried to shift the momentum for us, but they made a pitching change that changed the complexion of the ballgame.”
Troy used a three-run double from left fielder Boone Shear to jump-start the five-run first inning, with designated hitter Jakob Nixon and center fielder Ali Knowles adding RBI singles in the frame to give the Trojans the 5-0 advantage after one.
The Red Wolves chipped away in the third with a pair of runs to cut the Trojan lead to 5-2. Center fielder Michael Faulkner singled, advanced to second on a bunt single from right fielder Collin Massanelli, and came home on when left fielder Logan Uxa reached on an error. Third baseman Claude Johnson singled in the other ASU run, driving in pinch runner Kaleb Brown from third.
The Red Wolves knocked another run off of the Trojans’ advantage in the fourth when catcher Ryan Roberts put a solo home run over the right-center wall, but Troy answered with a run in the fifth when catcher Jake Harrell singled in a run to make it 6-3, Trojans.
An RBI single from Knowles stretched the Troy lead to 7-3 in the seventh and an insurance run in the eighth set the final at 8-3.
Junior Daniel Wright lasted just two-thirds of an inning in taking the loss for ASU. Wright gave up five runs on six hits, striking out one and walking one.
Roberts went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead the ASU offense. Troy out-hit the Red Wolves 16-8 and was led by Nixon and second baseman Tyler Vaughn, who had three hits each.
The Red Wolves will wrap up pool play against third-seeded FIU Saturday at 3:00 p.m. The championship game, pitting the winner of Pool B against ULM, is scheduled for Sunday, May 27 at 1:00 p.m.