TROY, Ala. (4/1/12) — The Arkansas State Red Wolves broke a 4-4 tie with a run in the seventh and went on to defeat the Troy Trojans 5-4 Sunday afternoon at Pace-Riddle Field. With the win, Arkansas State also won the Sun Belt Conference series between the two teams 2-1 and improved to 17-11 overall and 7-2 in SBC action. The Red Wolves bounced back from a 7-6 loss in the Friday series opener to post a 16-8 victory Saturday and even the series at 1-1. Sunday’s win gave ASU its first-ever series victory over the Trojans (13-14, 3-6).
Arkansas State broke the 4-4 tie in the seventh when right fielder Collin Massanelli led off the inning with a single, moved to second base when center fielder Michael Faulkner walked, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from first baseman Zach George and scored when third baseman Claude Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice.
From there, relievers Brandon Farley and John Koch kept the Trojans off the scoreboard in the final three innings, with Koch earning his SBC-best sixth save of the season.
“When you look at the box score, you look at how we defended the field with no errors,” said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. “We made all the plays. You also look at what we did on the mound with only two free bases, and that’s pretty significant on a Sunday. We were able to capitalize on one of their errors for some runs and when they tied it, we got the run back and that was essentially the ballgame. We turned it over to the back side of the bullpen, and Farley and Koch did a wonderful job for us.”
Arkansas State jumped on the Trojans early, scoring once in the first on an RBI single from George before adding two more in the third. Massanelli reached on a fielder’s choice in the third, Faulkner singled to get aboard, and both scored when Johnson reached on a two-out error for the 3-0 ASU advantage.
A two-out RBI double in the sixth from catcher Ryan Roberts stretched the Red Wolves’ advantage to 4-0, but the Trojans scored four times in the bottom of the inning to pull even. First baseman Logan Pierce drove in Troy’s first run with a double to left-center, followed by a two-run home run from third baseman Danny Collins, and a solo home run from left fielder Jo-El Bennett that tied the game at 4-4.
Junior Morgan Croft went to the mound in the sixth and picked up his second win of the weekend, relieving starter Cory Kyle, who pitched 5.1 shutout innings before giving up three runs in the sixth. Kyle gave up the runs on four hits, with five strikeouts and two walks. Croft worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up one run on one hit without walking or striking out a batter. Farley struck out three while giving up twohits in two innings, and Koch did not allow a baserunner in the final inning, striking out the final batter he faced to end the game.
Johnson and George each went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead ASU offensively, while Pierce went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead Troy. The Red Wolves out-hit the Trojans 9-7 on the day.
“We know every weekend is going to be a battle,” said Raffo. “Everyone in the conference knows that, so we have to prepare ourselves for another Sun Belt weekend coming up. This is a good start to Sun Belt play, but at the same time, there is a lot of work to do.”
The Red Wolves will host Louisiana-Monroe next weekend in a three-game SBC series that gets underway Friday, March 23 at 6:00 p.m.
Before hosting ULM, Arkansas State will return to action April 3-4 when the Red Wolves travel to Springfield, Mo. for a two-game midweek series at Missouri State. Tuesday’s game is scheduled to get underway at 6:30 p.m., with the Wednesday contest scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Both games will be played at Hammons Field.
GAME THREE NOTES
- Center fielder Michael Faulkner picked up his 21st stolen base of the season when he stole third in the first inning. Faulkner went into the weekend ranked fourth nationally in stolen bases, and second in stolen bases per game. He has not been caught stealing on the year. The ASU single-season stolen base record is 29, set by Jerome Miller in 1978.
- Junior catcher Ryan Roberts’ double in the sixth extended his hitting streak to nine games.
- With his single in the seventh, freshman right fielder Collin Massanelli has now hit in six straight games and reached base in 15 consecutive games.
- With his double in the fourth, shortstop Dustin Jones extended his hitting streak to eight games. Jones hit .417 (5-of-12) on the weekend with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored.
- Junior catcher Ryan Roberts' first-inning home run in game one was his first career home run. Roberts hit .500 on the weekend, going 3-for-6 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs. He posted a team-high slugging percentage of 1.167.
- After striking out a career-high 10batters in game one, Jacob Lee's career strikeout total now stands at 238, 13 short of the ASU career strikeout record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg in 1967-70.
- Logan Uxa’s fifth-inning home run in game two gives him a team-high five on the season.
- Game two was ASU’s first three-home run game of the season.
- ASU has now scored more runs in the eighth inning (28) than any other inning this season.
- Zach George’s eighth-inning home run in game two was his third of the season. George hit .500 (5-of-10) on the weekend with a double, a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored.
- ASU’s 16 runs in game two were the most scored for the Red Wolves in a game this season.
- Junior John Koch picked up his fifth and sixth saves of the season over the weekend and raised his career total to 10. With one more save, he will tie the single-season and career saves record at ASU. Randy Walker set the single season saves record of seven in 1981. Blake Ring and Tim Egart are currently ASU’s career saves leaders with 11. Ring played from 2003-05 while Egart played from 2006-07. Koch currently leads the Sun Belt in saves on the season.