|Red Wolves Rally for 16-8 Victory at Troy|
TROY, Ala. (3/31/12) - After starting the series 0-for-9, Arkansas State junior Michael Faulkner delivered two-out, two-strike RBI single in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 8-8, first baseman Zach George followed Faulkner's hit with a three-run home run, and the Red Wolves went on to defeat the Troy Trojans 16-8 Saturday at Riddle-Pace Field.
With the win, Arkansas State evened the Sun Belt Conference series between the two teams at 1-1 and improved to 16-11 on the season and 6-2 in SBC play. The Trojans slipped to 13-13 overall and 3-5 in conference action.
Shortstop Dustin Jones reached on a two-out single to start the eighth-inning rally for the Red Wolves. Jones moved to second on a single from right fielder Collin Massanelli and scored on Faulkner's base hit to left field. George put the Red Wolves on top 11-8 with his three-run home run over the left field wall, ASU added five more runs in the ninth, and junior John Koch came on to shut out the Trojans in the final two innings, striking out the side in the ninth to earn his fifth save of the year.
"We put ourselves in position with a good at-bat with two outs from Jones," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "And we had another good at-bat with Collin, and obviously Mike did a good job and set it up for Zach to get a pitch up in the air and put us ahead. It was important to expand the lead in the ninth and we were able to do that."
Arkansas State scored three times in the second, but Troy countered with four unearned runs to make it 4-3, Trojans at the end of the inning. The Red Wolves' first run scored when left fielder Logan Uxa singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch, ASU made it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly from catcher Stuart Levy and the third run came on an RBI single from Jones. Troy answered with a sacrifice fly from catcher Jake Harrell, then got a two-run double from designated hitter Jakob Nixon to tie the score at 3-3. A double from shortstop Tyler Hannah scored Nixon to put the Trojans on top, 4-3.
The Red Wolves regained the lead at 5-4 in the top of the third when Uxa launched a two-run home run over the 30-foot wall in right field, but the Trojans countered again in the bottom of the inning with two runs on an RBI single from Nixon to go back on top 6-5. A solo home run from first baseman Logan Pierce in the fourth extended the Trojans' lead to 7-5.
Uxa slugged another home run, this time a two-run shot to center field in the fifth to tie the game at 7-7, but Troy went back on top 8-7 in the seventh when Hannah tripled and scored on a base hit from Pierce.
After the four-run eighth inning that put ASU back on top 11-8, ASU closed the door with five in the ninth. Faulkner, Brandon Milhouse and Ryan Emery all drew bases-loaded walks in the ninth, Uxa was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and third baseman Claude Johnson singled to drive in the final run for the Red Wolves.
Junior Morgan Croft (1-1) went to the mound for ASU in the seventh and struck out all three batters he faced to pick up the win. Koch did not give up a hit, struck out three and walked one in the final two innings. Nate Hill took the loss for Troy, giving up four runs on six hits, with a walk and three strikeouts in two innings of relief.
Uxa was 4-for-5 with five RBIs to lead ASU at the plate, with Johnson going 4-for-6 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Pierce was 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead Troy.
The Red Wolves and Trojans will resume the series at 1:00 p.m. Sunday.