JONESBORO, Ark. (2/15/14) – The Arkansas State baseball team swept a season-opening doubleheader against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field, claiming a 3-0 game-one victory and an 18-8 win in the second contest.
The Red Wolves (2-0) claimed their 24th consecutive home-opening victory dating back to the 1991 season and improved to 4-2 in season openers under head coach Tommy Raffo.
A-State shutout two opponents all of last season, but began its 2013 campaign by using a dominant pitching performance to blank the RedHawks (0-2). The Red Wolves then turned up their offense in the second game to score their most runs since posting 19 against SIU-Edwardsville in the fifth game of the 2009 season.
Four A-State pitchers, including senior starter Bradley Wallace, combined to allow seven hits and keep Miami off the scoreboard. Wallace recorded five strikeouts over six full innings of work to earn his ninth career victory, while sophomore Adam Grantham struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his second career save.
The Red Wolves’ offense accounted for all their runs in the third inning with Zach Maggio, Zach George and Dustin Jones all crossing the plate. A-State recorded three of its six hits during the at-bat, including an RBI single by George. Austin Baker and Kevin Fitzpatrick each posted a sacrifice fly to bring home the Red Wolves other two runs.
While the initial game saw both teams combine for 13 hits, the second outing saw A-State post 16 hits alone. The RedHawks used 11 hits over the course of their first seven at-bats to trail just 10-7, but the Red Wolves recorded five hits and took advantage of three Miami errors in the bottom of the seventh to explode for eight runs.
“Baseball is a funny game, and its unbelievable how it worked out today,” said Raffo. “Bradley Wallace settled in after the first couple of innings and gave us an outstanding quality start with six innings of three runs or less. We had the big (third) inning, were able to feed off that, and then played clean baseball defensively the first game.
“They are obviously a good-hitting team with a strong lineup, so we were able to get through that in the first game and then carry the momentum into the next game by starting with a three-run inning. All our runs scored today were big innings, and typically when you have that you are going to win a lot of games.”
Trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the second, Arkansas State matched its first-inning output with three runs in the second to go back ahead 6-3 and didn’t trail again. The Red Wolves added four runs in the fourth to go ahead 10-4, but Miami scored three over the sixth and seventh innings to cut A-State’s lead to three.
Eleven A-State players recorded at least one hit in the second game, including Jones and 2014 newcomer Matt Burgess with a team-high three each. Burgess was responsible for a team-high three RBI, and, along with Jones, scored three times.
Starting pitcher Chandler Hawkins struck out four batters in four innings of work and collected the victory. Like the first game, the Red Wolves used four pitchers with Coulton Lee allowing no runs and only one hit in 1.2 innings of relief work.
A-State and Miami will conclude their three-game weekend series with a 1 p.m. contest Sunday at Tomlinson Stadium.