|Red Wolves Defeated in Series Finale With FIU|
JONESBORO, Ark. (5/13/12) — Arkansas State held a 3-1 lead after three innings of play, but the Florida International Panthers jumped on the Red Wolves for nine runs in the fourth inning and went on to defeat ASU 16-5 in seven innings and grab the Sun Belt Conference series victory Sunday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
Arkansas State opened the series with a 7-4 victory Friday night, but FIU bounced back to win 10-7 in the Saturday game before closing out the weekend with the Sunday victory.
“FIU is a good-hitting club, and they proved it today,” said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. “They found a lot of holes and you’ve got to tip your hat to them. Any time you get 20 hits, it is hard to overcome.”
With the loss, ASU slipped to 28-21 overall and 16-9 in Sun Belt Conference action. The Red Wolves will enter the final week of SBC play in second place, one game behind league-leader Florida Atlantic, which defeated UALR 12-8 Sunday afternoon to take sole possession of first place at 17-8 after beginning Sunday’s action tied with the Red Wolves. Florida International improved to 31-21 overall and 15-12 in SBC action.
“This doesn’t take away anything from what we believe in our club and how we believe in our guys and what they can and cannot do,” added Raffo. “It’s one game. I know it shows up today as not a very good game, but these guys fought very hard this whole series and have been fighting hard all year. We believe in them, and they are a special group.”
FIU center fielder Pablo Bermudez took advantage of a 15mph wind blowing out to center field, hitting a solo home run to lead off the game and put the Panthers on top, 1-0 before the Red Wolves got on the board with three runs in the second.
Run-scoring hits from catcher Stuart Levy, shortstop Dustin Jones and second baseman Zach Maggio drove in the Red Wolves’ three runs, and the 3-1 advantage held until FIU broke the game open with nine runs in the fourth to take a 10-3 lead. The Panthers scored two more in the fifth before the Red Wolves cut the FIU lead to 12-5 on a two-run home run from left fielder Logan Uxa.
The Panthers dashed any hopes of an Arkansas State comeback with four runs in the sixth to set the final at 16-5.
FIU out-hit the Red Wolves 20-6 on the day, getting three hits each from Bermudez, right fielder Nathan Burns and catcher Aramis Garcia. Bermudez drove in four runs on the day, Garcia three, and third baseman Mike Martinez added three RBIs, going 2-for-5 on the day. Uxa was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead ASU.
Senior Cory Kyle (2-4) took the loss for ASU, giving up four runs in three and one-third innings of work, surrendering six hits while striking out three and walking none. R.J. Fondon (6-6) picked up the win for FIU, giving up five runs on six hits in six innings on the mound. Fondon walked four and struck out four.
The series loss was just the second on the season for the Red Wolves, which went into the FIU series at 8-1 on the season in weekend series action.
Arkansas State will wrap up the home portion of its 2012 schedule Tuesday, May 15 when the Red Wolves host #25 Ole Miss in a 6:30 p.m. game at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field. The Red Wolves will then travel to Little Rock to close out the regular season, taking on UALR May 17-19 in a three-game SBC series.