MURRAY, Ky. (3/9/10) - The Arkansas State Red Wolves survived an early-inning slugfest to improve to 8-4 on the season with a 17-8 win over the Thoroughbreds of Murray State (4-7) Tuesday afternoon at Johnny Reagan Field.
Arkansas State hammered out a season-best 20 hits in the game and its 17 runs were also a season-high. The two teams combined to score 12 runs in the first two innings, but the Red Wolves wiped out a 7-5 second-inning Thoroughbred advantage with four runs in the third and did not trail again.
First baseman Murray Watts went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, third baseman Jordan Castaldo was 4-for-6 with three doubles and three RBIs and catcher Kyle DeGrace was 2-for-6 with two home runs and five RBIs to lead the Red Wolves at the plate.
After Murray State scored seven runs in the first two innings, Arkansas State pitchers Brad Allen, Brandon Milhouse and Drew Benes combined to blank the Thoroughbreds in the third through seventh frames while ASU pulled away offensively. Working on a pitch count, Allen picked up the win for the Red Wolves after throwing the first three innings.
The Red Wolves jumped out to a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat, getting a two-out RBI triple from Watts to take the early lead, but Murray State answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning. First baseman Wes Cunningham and designated hitter Bryan Propst both delivered two-run home runs sandwiched around an RBI double from right fielder Daniel Hill to put the Thoroughbreds on top 5-1.
Arkansas State put four runs on the board in the second to tie the game at 5-5. DeGrace cut the MSU lead to 5-3 with a two-run home run before Watts came up big with a two-out, two-run single to tie the game. Cunningham answered again in the bottom of the inning with another two-run home run to break the tie and put the Thoroughbreds back on top at 7-5.
The Red Wolves unloaded their second consecutive four-run inning when they regained the lead at 9-7 in the third. Third baseman Jordan Castaldo doubled and scored when DeGrace reached on an error, second baseman Giovanni Garcia drove in two runs with a double, and left fielder Josh DeMoney's sacrifice fly plated the fourth run of the inning for ASU.
A sacrifice fly from Garcia in the fifth and a sacrifice from DeMoney in the seventh extended the ASU lead to 11-7 before the Red Wolves added four more in the eighth. DeGrace followed up an RBI single from Castaldo with a three-run home run to make it 15-7, ASU.
Murray State catcher Jason Laws sent a solo home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the eighth to trim the Red Wolves' advantage to 15-8, but Arkansas State got the run back and then some when Castaldo hammered his third double of the day to plate two more runs in the ninth and set the final score at 17-8.
The Red Wolves will return to action this weekend when they travel to Lafayette, La. to open Sun Belt Conference play against the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette. Friday's series opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and Sunday's finale will get underway at 1:00 p.m.