JONESBORO, Ark. (3/14/14) – With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth inning, Dustin Jones hit a two-run double to give A-State a 2-0 lead and that was all the Red Wolves would need in a 3-0 Sun Belt Conference opener victory over UALR Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field in Jonesboro.
A-State (9-8, 1-0) appeared to have taken the lead over the Trojans (9-6, 0-1) in the bottom of the fifth inning after a leadoff triple by Stuart Levy and a sacrifice fly by Derek Birginske, but it was ruled Levy left third base early so the score remained 0-0. Joe Schrimpf singled to left field and Kevin Fitzpatrick laid down a beautiful bunt single to third to put runners on first and second.
After a balk advanced both runners, Jones doubled for the 2-0 lead. Jones advanced to third on a wild pitch during Zach Maggio’s at-bat and Maggio walked to put runners at the corners for the Red Wolves. During Lucas Feddersen’s at-bat, Maggio looked to have been caught stealing after Travis McDonald made a pickoff throw to first but Maggio avoided the tag in front of second base and Jones scampered home on the double steal to give Arkansas State a 3-0 lead.
A-State starter David Owen pitched seven scoreless innings to record the win. Owen tied his career high with 10 strikeouts and only walked one batter while giving up six hits. Morgan Croft earned his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth after Colton Kibler pitched a flawless eighth inning.
UALR’s McDonald took his first loss of the season after pitching 5 2/3 innings and giving up three runs (all earned) on five hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. The Trojans loaded the bases in the top of the first behind a single, double, and walk, but couldn’t push a run across as Owen struck out Justin Steelmon and got Bryson Thionnet to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
Offensively, the Red Wolves were led by Stuart Levy’s two hits, while Schrimpf, Fitzpatrick, and Jones each added one. A-State also had three steals on the night as Maggio, Levy, and Jones each swiped a bag.Arkansas State will complete its SBC opening series against UALR with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon. Sunday’s series finale was moved due to the threat of inclement weather to the second game of the doubleheader and will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.