|Red Wolves Travel to MTSU For SBC Weekend Series|
ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES (21-18, 10-6)
at Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (24-19, 10-8)
April 27-29, 2012 6:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Reese Smith Jr. Field (2,100) Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Radio: 95.3 FM & KNEA 970 AM & AStateRedWolves.com
LiveStats at AStateRedWolves.com
LEADING OFF: After playing just once since, April 17, the Arkansas State Red Wolves return to action this weekend when they travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State. The action will get underway Friday at 6:00 p.m. at Reese Smith Jr. Field. Saturday’s game is set for 4:00 p.m. and Sunday’s finale is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. All ASU baseball games may be heard on 95.3 FM and KNEA 970 AM, and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats may also be accessed by logging on to AStateRedWolves.com.
THE TEAMS: Arkansas State travels to Murfreesboro at 21-18 on the season and in second place in the Sun Belt Conference standings at 10-6. The Blue Raiders are in a three-way tie for third place at 10-8 in the league standings, and are 24-19 overall. Arkansas State has played just once since April 17 after being rained out in two of three games last weekend at Florida Atlantic. In the only game played between the Red Wolves and FAU, ASU led 2-1 after five innings, before suffering a 6-2 loss to the league-leading Owls. Senior Jacob Lee became the ASU career strikeout leader in the game when he fanned five batters in the first five innings to bring his career total to 255. Lee now has 61 strikeouts on the season, the third-most in the Sun Belt, and will get the start on the mound when the series opens Friday night. Third baseman Claude Johnson leads ASU at the plate and at .355 is one of three Red Wolves hitting over .300. Johnson’s average ranks sixth in the Sun Belt Conference and he is followed in the ASU standings by outfielders Collin Massanelli and Logan Uxa at .347 and .311, respectively. The Blue Raiders will open the series Friday night at 24-19 overall and 10-8 in Sun Belt play, but have lost three of their last five games. MTSU lost two of three games last weekend at Louisiana-Monroe, falling 13-0 in the Friday game before bouncing back for a 3-2 victory Saturday. ULM posted a 13-7 win to take the series Sunday afternoon. In midweek action, the Blue Raiders defeated Tennessee Tech 10-7 Tuesday night before losing 8-4 Wednesday at home against Vanderbilt. Five players are hitting .300 or above for MTSU, led by outfielders Justin Guidry (.361) and Trent Miller (.355). Guidry leads the league in hits with 61 and is third with 37 runs scored. Miller is second in the league with 11 home runs, third with 59 hits and third with 30 RBIs. MTSU’s Friday night starter on the mound, Hunter Adkins, has a team-high 50 strikeouts, while lefty Johnathan Frebis is sixth in the Sun Belt with an ERA of 2.78 and will get the Saturday start. Sunday’s starter, Jonathan Sisco, has an ERA of 3.07 to rank eighth in the SBC. Ranked first in the Sun Belt and 27th nationally with a .976 fielding percentage, MTSU has turned 47 double plays, the third-most in the nation.
THE MTSU SERIES: Middle Tennessee holds a 23-12 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams. When the two teams met last season in Jonesboro, ASU posted a three-game sweep over the Blue Raiders, winning 6-5, 7-6 and 11-4. Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee have not met in Murfreesboro since the 2009 season, when MTSU notched a three-game sweep over the Red Wolves, winning 10-8, 14-3 and 10-3.
LEE BECOMES ASU CAREER STRIKEOUT LEADER: With his five strikeouts against FAU April 22, senior Jacob Lee wrote his name in the ASU record books as the school’s career strikeout leader. Lee finished the day with 255 strikeouts, surpassing the record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg in 1967-70 with his five strikeouts April 22 against FAU. Lee tied the record when he struck out FAU left fielder Nathan Pittman in the first, then struck out center fielder Geoff Jimenez in the second to set the new record of 252.
KOCH SETS RECORDS: Junior John Koch enjoyed a record-setting performance April 15 when he became the ASU single-season and career saves leader. Koch earned his seventh save of the season against Memphis April 10 to tie the single-season record, then closed out the series victory over Western Kentucky April 15 with his eighth save of the season to break the record. The two saves bring his career total to 12, which is also a new ASU career record. For the week, Koch pitched four scoreless innings in three appearances, giving up just two hits and no runs along the way. He struck out five, did not issue a walk and held opposing batters to a .143 average.
FAULKNER TIES SCHOOL RECORDS: Junior center fielder Michael Faulkner tied the school record for stolen bases in a game when he swiped four in the Red Wolves’ April 4 game at Missouri State, bringing his season total to 26 at the time. Faulkner picked up his first stolen base after a first-inning single. The second followed up a second-inning single, and the final two came when he stole second and third after a base hit in the seventh. Faulkner wrote his name in the ASU record books again April 15, stealing two bases in ASU’s 6-3 win over Western Kentucky to tie the Arkansas State single-season record of 29 set by Jerome Miller in 1978. The Sun Belt Conference steals leader, also ranked second nationally going into the week’s action in stolen bases per game (.78) and sixth in total stolen bases, now has 68 stolen bases in his career, just 16 short of the ASU career record of 84 set in 1976-79 by Miller.
CENTURY MARK FOR RAFFO: Arkansas State head coach Tommy Raffo picked up his 100th career victory - all at ASU - when the Red Wolves defeated Western Kentucky 5-0 April 13.
FIRST SHUTOUT: The Red Wolves’ 5-0 win over Western Kentucky April 13 was ASU’s first shutout victory of the season.
BREAKOUT WEEK FOR MAGGIO: Second baseman Zach Maggio led Arkansas State at the plate during the week of April 9-15, hitting .562 with a pair of doubles, an RBI four runs scored. Against Western Kentucky, his average improved to .615 as he went 8-for-13 against the Hilltoppers. He posted a slugging percentage of .692 and an on-base percentage of .667. He was 1-for-1 on stolen base attempts, walked twice, had nine total bases and struck out just twice. Just two weeks prior, Maggio was hitting .089 on the season, but raised his batting average to .276 heading into the FAU series.
UXA LEADING THE WAY: Junior outfielder Logan Uxa is leading the Red Wolves in seven statistical categories, including RBIs (29), slugging percentage (.496), on-base percentage (.435), home runs (6), walks (27), total bases (67) and hit-by-pitch (4). His batting average of .311 is second best on the team.
FINISHING STRONG: The Red Wolves are a perfect 19-0 this season in games in which they hold the lead after eight innings, 18-1 when leading after seven and 15-2 when leading after six frames.
STREAKING: Freshman outfielder Collin Massanelli has reached base in all 22 games in which he has played, and currently leads the team with his 22-game on-base streak. He has gotten a hit in 20 of those 22 and is currently tied with junior Zach Maggio for the team lead with a five-game hit streak.
IMPRESSIVE START: The Red Wolves won their first three Sun Belt Conference weekend series for the first time since the 1996 season. Arkansas State swept UALR in the opening weekend, defeated ULL on the road 2-1 in week two and won at Troy 2-1 in week three to match the effort of the 1996 squad, which defeated Texas Pan-American, Louisiana Tech and Jacksonville in its first three conference weekends, before losing two of three the next week against New Orleans. The 2012 Red Wolves suffered their first weekend series loss on the year when they lost to ULM 10-1 in the rubber match of their series with the Warhawks, bounced back the following weekend to take two of three against Western Kentucky, and now stand at 6-1 on the year in weekend series action.
CAREER HIGH FOR LEE: Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee struck out a career-high 10 batters in six innings of work March 30 against Troy. Lee went to the dugout having shut out the Trojans through six innings, but Troy got to the ASU bullpen in the final three frames and rallied for a 7-6 win over the Red Wolves.
WALKING OFF: Sophomore Zach George came up with one of the biggest hits of his career April 6 against ULM. With the Red Wolves trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, George went to the plate with runners at first and second and blasted a towering home run over the right field wall to give the Red Wolves a 7-6 victory.
BREAKOUT GAME: Arkansas State’s 16-8 victory over the Troy Trojans March 31 was the first game this season in which the Red Wolves hit three home runs. The 16 runs scored by ASU in the game was also a season high.
EIGHT IS GREAT: Through 39 games, the eighth inning has been the most productive for Arkansas State, with the Red Wolves scoring 35 runs in the frame, and that productivity has paid off. Arkansas State is 19-0 on the season when leading after eight innings.
STRONG WEEK FOR KYLE: ASU senior Cory Kyle was outstanding in his two appearances during the week of March 26, pitching 9.1 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts over a two-game span. Kyle retired the final 12 batters he faced to earn the save in ASU’s 4-2 victory over UAPB March 28, then came back to shutout Troy for 5.1 innings in his April 1 start against the Trojans.
CAREER DAY FOR WRIGHT: Junior starting pitcher Daniel Wright struck out a career-high nine batters in 6.2 innings to pick up the win in ASU’s 6-4 victory at ULL March 24. Wright, a former walk-on, retired 19 of the first 22 batters he faced, including the first nine. He held the Cajuns to .200 hitting on the day, 78 points below their team batting average, gave up just five hits and did not issue a walk. He threw 103 pitches on the day and his nine strikeouts are the most for any ASU player in a game this year.
STRONG PERFORMANCE BY JOHNSON: Third baseman Claude Johnson hit .538 in the March 23-25 series against ULL. Johnson followed that up by hitting .429 in ASU’s five games last week and heads into the Missouri State series as ASU’s leading hitter at .360 on the season, a figure that climbs to .441 against Sun Belt competition. Johnson’s .360 average currently ranks sixth in the Sun Belt.
McWILLIAMS, KYLE TAME LIONS: After Arkansas State gave up a pair of first-inning runs to visiting UAPB March 28, relievers Seth McWilliams and Cory Kyle came in to shut out the Golden Lions for the final 8.1 innings in the 4-2 ASU victory. McWilliams worked 4.1 innings to pick up his third win of the season, giving up no runs on two hits, with three strikeouts. Kyle worked the final four frames, retiring the final 12 batters he faced to earn his first save of the year. He struck out six batters and allowed just two hits, and neither Kyle nor McWilliams walked a batter on the night.
FIRST ROAD WIN: ASU’s March 24, 6-4 victory over the Cajuns was the Red Wolves’ first true road victory of the season. Arkansas State defeated Dayton 9-3 March 9 on a neutral field at Clarksville, Tenn. for what was previously its only victory away from Jonesboro.
SECOND STRAIGHT SWEEP: The Red Wolves posted their second straight sweep of in-state and Sun Belt Conference rival UALR March 16-18. Arkansas State opened their 2012 SBC slate against the Trojans and won 7-3, 2-3 and 8-4 to notch their sixth consecutive win against UALR. The Red Wolves also swept the Trojans to close out the 2011 regular season.
SECOND STRAIGHT SWEEP, PART II: The Red Wolves three-game sweep of UALR was the second consecutive weekend sweep when playing the same opponent in all three weekend games. Arkansas State also posted a three-game sweep over South Dakota State March 2-4, whipping the Jackrabbits 15-5, 12-7 and 10-1.
LEE OUTSTANDING AGAINST UALR: Senior Jacob Lee was outstanding in his Friday night start against UALR. Against the top-hitting team in the conference, Lee struck out seven batters and gave up just five hits – four of which were singles – to earn the win in ASU’s 7-3 victory over the Trojans. Lee held the Trojans, who were hitting .328 and leading the Sun Belt in almost every offensive category, to a .200 batting average as a team and carried a shutout into the eighth inning.
ASU PITCHING STAFF SHUTS DOWN UALR: Facing the league leader in almost every offensive category over the weekend, the Arkansas State pitching staff was outstanding in shutting down UALR’s offensive attack. The Red Wolves held UALR to a .194 batting average and just six multiple-base hits on the weekend – and no home runs. The Trojans came into the series with the league’s best batting average at .328. Seven ASU pitchers combined to post an ERA of 2.25 against the Trojans, which had scored 10 or more runs in eight of their last ten games. In the three-game series against the Trojans, the ASU pitchers struck out 26 batters while giving up just 19 hits and nine total runs.
TRIO NAMED ALL-TOURNAMENT: Juniors Michael Faulkner, Ryan Roberts and Logan Uxa were all named to the Austin Peay Riverview Inn All-Tournament team for their performances at the classic March 9-11. Faulkner hit .592 with a triple, Uxa hit .416 with a two doubles and a home run and Roberts hit .428 and from his catcher position threw out two baserunners trying to steal.
EXTRA INNINGS: Arkansas State’s 11-inning game March 11 against Austin Peay was the Red Wolves’ first extra-inning game of the season. The game lasted 4:35 and saw the Red Wolves battle back from a 9-3 deficit after five innings. Arkansas State tied the game in the ninth on an RBI single from first baseman Michael George before falling 10-9 in the 11th to the Governors. The Red Wolves evened their record to 1-1 in extra innings games this season against UALR March 17, posting a 3-2, 10-inning win to clinch the SBC series.
BIG WEEK FOR FAULKNER: Junior Michael Faulkner was outstanding for ASU in its five games during the week of March 6-11. Faulkner hit .417 and was a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts. Faulkner went 10-for-24 at the plate with a triple, 7 runs scored and a pair of RBIs. He posted a slugging percentage of .500, drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, for an on-base percentage of .500 as well. He was named to the Austin Peay Riverview Inn All-Tournament team after hitting .592 with a triple and stealing six bases in the tournament.
OFFENSE COMES ALIVE: The Arkansas State offense exploded for 37 runs in the Red Wolves’ three-game sweep over South Dakota State March 2-4, blasting 40 hits along the way. The Red Wolves slugged eight doubles, two triples and two home runs in the three games against the Jackrabbits and posted a team batting average of .354. ASU’s 37 runs in the series was the most since the Red Wolves scored 38 against New Orleans in 2010.
KYLE SHUTS DOWN JACKRABBITS: With a 30 mph wind blowing out that had already played a part in five runs through the first four innings for South Dakota State, senior reliever Cory Kyle went to the mound and shut down the Jackrabbits through the final five innings, striking out six in ASU’s 15-5 win March 2. Kyle picked up the win after holding the Jackrabbits to just one hit after SDSU had belted out eight in the first four frames. Kyle allowed just two baserunners in the final five innings, walking one and giving up one single.
EMERY COMES THROUGH: Junior outfielder/designated hitter Ryan Emery led the ASU batting attack during the week of Feb. 20-26, hitting .467 with two game-winning RBI hits to help the Red Wolves to a 4-2 record. With the Red Wolves trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning of game two against Evansville, Emery hit a two-run single to erase the deficit and send home the winning run in ASU’s 5-4 win. He came up big again in the Sunday finale, delivering an RBI single up the middle in the eighth that again proved to be the winning run in a 3-2 victory for the Red Wolves. For the week, Emery went 7-for-15 with four RBIs, a run scored, a walk and a sacrifice.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL HOME DEBUT: With their 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22, Red Wolves extended their winning streak in home openers to 22 games, a run that dates back to the 1991 season.
4-K INNING FOR FARLEY: Arkansas State senior right-hander Brandon Farley notched a rare four-strikeout inning in the Red Wolves’ 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22. After Murray State’s Ty Stetson reached on a dropped third strike to lead off the seventh inning, Farley proceeded to mow down the next three batters to close out the frame with four strikeouts. Farley faced seven batters on the afternoon, striking out five without giving up a hit or issuing a walk.
FIRST WIN FOR SHORDON: True freshman Levi Shordon made the most of his first career start against Murray State Feb. 22, picking up the win in ASU’s 11-3 victory. In four innings of work, the lefty from Simi Valley, Calif. gave up just three hits and one run, while striking out one. Shordon gave up the run in the first, then settled in and pitched three and one-thirds innings of shutout baseball to earn his first win.
CAREER HIGH FOR FAULKNER: Arkansas State junior Michael Faulkner drove in a career-high four runs in the Red Wolves’ 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22. Faulkner’s previous career high was three runs, set in 2001 against Memphis and again against Louisiana-Lafayette.
MOTHER NATURE UNKIND: The Red Wolves came up on the short end of a 2-1 score against Lamar in the season opener, with both the Cardinals and Mother Nature playing a role in the loss. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Arkansas State was poised to tie the game or take the lead when the game was called due to weather. The Red Wolves had runners at first and second with just one out when heavy rainfall forced officials to call the game, giving Lamar the win.
STRONG DEBUT FOR LEE: Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee was outstanding in the season opener for the Red Wolves, striking out five batters in six shutout innings of work on the road at Lamar. Lee walked just one batter and surrendered just five hits – all singles.
FIRST HOME RUN: Arkansas State sophomore Claude Johnson slugged his first career home run during the Red Wolves’ opening weekend at Lamar. Johnson went 1-for-2 in Sunday’s finale to notch the home run. As a freshman last year, Johnson hit .220, going 11-for-50 with three doubles and two RBIs.
NEWCOMERS SHINE: Newcomers Stuart Levy and Drew Burks both enjoyed solid outings in their first two games as Red Wolves during opening weekend, each hitting .333 in a pair of games against Lamar. Burks, a junior transfer from Coffeyville CC, started at DH and went 2-for-6 with a double and a walk to post an on-base percentage of .429. Levy, a true freshman from Little Rock, drew one start at catcher and went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch to record an on-base percentage of .500.
ASU IN SEASON OPENERS: The Red Wolves are 32-32 all-time on opening day. Arkansas State dropped its season opener Feb. 17, falling 2-1 on the road at Lamar. The Red Wolves are 2-2 in season openers under head coach Tommy Raffo, defeating Texas State 4-3 in 2009 and Southern Illinois 14-5 in 2010.
SUCCESS UNDER RAFFO: Arkansas State has won two games at the Sun Belt Conference tournament each of the past two seasons under fourth-year head coach Tommy Raffo. Prior to Raffo’s coming to Jonesboro, Arkansas State had not won a game at the SBC Tournament since the 1997 season. The Red Wolves advanced to the tournament semifinals in 2010 and went 2-1 in pool play a year ago - with the only setback being a 13-inning loss to eventual runner-up Florida International.