|Red Wolves to Take On Missouri State in Midweek Series|
ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES (17-11)
at Missouri State Bears (21-8)
April 3-4, 2012 6:30 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.
Hammons Field (8,000) Springfield, Missouri
Radio: 95.3 FM & KNEA 970 AM & AStateRedWolves.com
LiveStats at AStateRedWolves.com
LEADING OFF: The Arkansas State Red Wolves (17-11) travel to Springfield, Mo. for a two-game, midweek series against the Bears (21-8) of Missouri State. The series will get underway Tuesday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Hammons Field, with Wednesday’s game scheduled for 3:00 p.m. All ASU baseball games may be heard on 95.3 FM and KNEA 970 AM, and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats may also be accessed by logging on to AStateRedWolves.com.
THE TEAMS: Arkansas State travels to Springfield having won six of its last seven games, including a 2-1 Sun Belt Conference series victory on the road last weekend at Troy. After coming up on the wrong side of a 7-6 decision to the Trojans in the Friday opener, the Red Wolves bounced back to win going away, 16-8 to even the series Saturday. A seventh-inning RBI from third baseman Claude Johnson in the Sunday finale broke a 4-4 tie and the Red Wolves went on to win their first-ever series victory over Troy with 5-4 decision. The SBC series victory was the third in as many weeks for ASU, and the second consecutive SBC series win on the road. Missouri State will take the field Tuesday night at 21-8 on the season. The Bears, ranked 29th nationally last week by Collegiate Baseball, took an eight-game win streak into last weekend’s series at Dallas Baptist, but lost the series against the Patriots 2-1. Dallas Baptist snapped Missouri State’s win streak with a 6-5 win in the Friday opener before the Bears evened the count with an 8-4 win in the Saturday game. The Patriots defeated Missouri State 10-6 in Sunday’s game to take the series. Center fielder Spiker Helms is hitting .339 to lead the Bears, who are hitting .267 as a team. The Missouri State pitching staff is holding opponents to a .237 average and sports a team ERA of 2.85.
IMPRESSIVE START: The Red Wolves have won their first three Sun Belt Conference weekend series for the first time since the 1996 season. Arkansas State swept UALR in the opening weekend, defeated ULL on the road 2-1 in week two and won at Troy 2-1 in week three to match the effort of the 1996 squad, which defeated Texas Pan-American, Louisiana Tech and Jacksonville in its first three conference weekends, before losing two of three the next week against New Orleans. The 2012 Red Wolves have not lost a weekend series on the year, improving to 5-0 with the series win at Troy.
THE MISSOURI STATE SERIES: The Bears hold a 35-21 advantage in the series between the two teams, but Arkansas State holds a two-game win streak over Missouri State heading into Tuesday’s game. The Red Wolves picked up a 6-5 victory in Jonesboro last year in the only meeting between the two teams; game one of the two game series was rained out. When the two teams met in Springfield during the 2010 season, Missouri State opened the two-game midweek series with a 2-1 win, but Arkansas State returned to Jonesboro with a series tie after defeating the Bears 5-4 in the Wednesday matchup.
ANOTHER STOLEN BASE FOR FAULKNER: Center fielder Michael Faulkner picked up his 21st stolen base of the season when he stole third in the first inning of ASU’s win at Troy April 1. 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.
CAREER HIGH FOR LEE: Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee struck out a career-high 10 batters in six innings of work March 30 against Troy. Lee went to the dugout having shut out the Trojans through six innings, but Troy got to the ASU bullpen in the final three frames and rallied for a 7-6 win over the Red Wolves.
KOCH NEARS RECORDS: Junior John Koch picked up his fifth and sixth saves of the season in ASU’s March 31 and April 1 victories at Troy, 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.
BREAKOUT GAME: Arkansas State’s 16-8 victory over the Troy Trojans March 31 was the first game this season in which the Red Wolves hit three home runs. The 16 runs scored by ASU in the game was also a season high.
EIGHT IS GREAT: Through 28 games, the eighth inning has been the most productive for Arkansas State, with the Red Wolves scoring 28 runs in the frame, and that productivity has paid off. Arkansas State is 16-0 on the season when leading after eight innings.
STRONG WEEK FOR KYLE: ASU senior Cory Kyle was outstanding in his two appearances last week, pitching 9.1 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts over a two-game span. Kyle retired the final 12 batters he faced to earn the save in ASU’s 4-2 victory over UAPB March 28, then came back to shutout Troy for 5.1 innings in his April 1 start against the Trojans.
STREAKING: Catcher Ryan Roberts takes a nine-game hit streak into the series at Missouri State, shortstop Dustin Jones is at eight and right fielder Collin Massanelli is at six, with Massanelli also holding a 15-game on-base streak, the highest on the team.
CAREER DAY FOR WRIGHT: Junior starting pitcher Daniel Wright struck out a career-high nine batters in 6.2 innings to pick up the win in ASU’s 6-4 victory at ULL March 24. Wright, a former walk-on, retired 19 of the first 22 batters he faced, including the first nine. He held the Cajuns to .200 hitting on the day, 78 points below their team batting average, gave up just five hits and did not issue a walk. He threw 103 pitches on the day and his nine strikeouts are the most for any ASU player in a game this year.
UNDEFEATED IN WEEKEND SERIES: Following the Red Wolves 2-1 series win at Troy last weekend, ASU improved to 5-0 in weekend series action, defeating Evansville, South Dakota State, UALR and ULL.
STRONG PERFORMANCE BY JOHNSON: Third baseman Claude Johnson hit .538 in the March 23-25 series against ULL. Johnson followed that up by hitting .429 in ASU’s five games last week and heads into the Missouri State series as ASU’s leading hitter at .429 on the season.
McWILLIAMS, KYLE TAME LIONS: After Arkansas State gave up a pair of first-inning runs to visiting UAPB March 28, relievers Seth McWilliams and Cory Kyle came in to shut out the Golden Lions for the final 8.1 innings in the 4-2 ASU victory. McWilliams worked 4.1 innings to pick up his third win of the season, giving up no runs on two hits, with three strikeouts. Kyle worked the final four frames, retiring the final 12 batters he faced to earn his first save of the year. He struck out six batters and allowed just two hits, and neither Kyle nor McWilliams walked a batter on the night.
FIRST ROAD WIN: ASU’s March 24, 6-4 victory over the Cajuns was the Red Wolves’ first true road victory of the season. Arkansas State defeated Dayton 9-3 March 9 on a neutral field at Clarksville, Tenn. for what was previously its only victory away from Jonesboro.
FIRST SAVE FOR WALLACE: Sophomore Bradley Wallace earned his first save of the season in Saturday’s 6-4 victory, working the final 2.1 innings. The save was the third of Wallace’s career.
SECOND STRAIGHT SWEEP: The Red Wolves posted their second straight sweep of in-state and Sun Belt Conference rival UALR March 16-18. Arkansas State opened their 2012 SBC slate against the Trojans and won 7-3, 2-3 and 8-4 to notch their sixth consecutive win against UALR. The Red Wolves also swept the Trojans to close out the 2011 regular season.
SECOND STRAIGHT SWEEP, PART II: The Red Wolves three-game sweep of UALR was the second consecutive weekend sweep when playing the same opponent in all three weekend games. Arkansas State also posted a three-game sweep over South Dakota State March 2-4, whipping the Jackrabbits 15-5, 12-7 and 10-1.
LEE OUTSTANDING AGAINST UALR: Senior Jacob Lee was outstanding in his Friday night start against UALR. Against the top-hitting team in the conference, Lee struck out seven batters and gave up just five hits – four of which were singles – to earn the win in ASU’s 7-3 victory over the Trojans. Lee held the Trojans, who were hitting .328 and leading the Sun Belt in almost every offensive category, to a .200 batting average as a team and carried a shutout into the eighth inning.
ASU PITCHING STAFF SHUTS DOWN UALR: Facing the league leader in almost every offensive category over the weekend, the Arkansas State pitching staff was outstanding in shutting down UALR’s offensive attack. The Red Wolves held UALR to a .194 batting average and just six multiple-base hits on the weekend – and no home runs. The Trojans came into the series with the league’s best batting average at .328. Seven ASU pitchers combined to post an ERA of 2.25 against the Trojans, which had scored 10 or more runs in eight of their last ten games. In the three-game series against the Trojans, the ASU pitchers struck out 26 batters while giving up just 19 hits and nine total runs.
TRIO NAMED ALL-TOURNAMENT: Juniors Michael Faulkner, Ryan Roberts and Logan Uxa were all named to the Austin Peay Riverview Inn All-Tournament team for their performances at the classic March 9-11. Faulkner hit .592 with a triple, Uxa hit .416 with a two doubles and a home run and Roberts hit .428 and from his catcher position threw out two baserunners trying to steal.
EXTRA INNINGS: Arkansas State’s 11-inning game March 11 against Austin Peay was the Red Wolves’ first extra-inning game of the season. The game lasted 4:35 and saw the Red Wolves battle back from a 9-3 deficit after five innings. Arkansas State tied the game in the ninth on an RBI single from first baseman Michael George before falling 10-9 in the 11th to the Governors. The Red Wolves evened their record to 1-1 in extra innings games this season against UALR March 17, posting a 3-2, 10-inning win to clinch the SBC series.
LEE ON PACE: Senior right-hander Jacob Lee is on pace to become the Red Wolves’ career strikeout leader. With 238 strikeouts in his career and 44 on the season, the 2011 preseason SBC Pitcher of the Year needs 14 strikeouts to break the 40-plus year-old record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg in 1967-70.
BIG WEEK FOR FAULKNER: Junior Michael Faulkner was outstanding for ASU in its five games during the week of March 6-11. Faulkner hit .417 and was a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts. Faulkner went 10-for-24 at the plate with a triple, 7 runs scored and a pair of RBIs. He posted a slugging percentage of .500, drew three walks and was hit by a pitch, for an on-base percentage of .500 as well. He was named to the Austin Peay Riverview Inn All-Tournament team after hitting .592 with a triple and stealing six bases in the tournament.
OFFENSE COMES ALIVE: The Arkansas State offense exploded for 37 runs in the Red Wolves’ three-game sweep over South Dakota State March 2-4, blasting 40 hits along the way. The Red Wolves slugged eight doubles, two triples and two home runs in the three games against the Jackrabbits and posted a team batting average of .354. ASU’s 37 runs in the series was the most since the Red Wolves scored 38 against New Orleans in 2010.
KYLE SHUTS DOWN JACKRABBITS: With a 30 mph wind blowing out that had already played a part in five runs through the first four innings for South Dakota State, senior reliever Cory Kyle went to the mound and shut down the Jackrabbits through the final five innings, striking out six in ASU’s 15-5 win March 2. Kyle picked up the win after holding the Jackrabbits to just one hit after SDSU had belted out eight in the first four frames. Kyle allowed just two baserunners in the final five innings, walking one and giving up one single.
EMERY COMES THROUGH: Junior outfielder/designated hitter Ryan Emery led the ASU batting attack during the week of Feb. 20-26, hitting .467 with two game-winning RBI hits to help the Red Wolves to a 4-2 record. With the Red Wolves trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning of game two against Evansville, Emery hit a two-run single to erase the deficit and send home the winning run in ASU’s 5-4 win. He came up big again in the Sunday finale, delivering an RBI single up the middle in the eighth that again proved to be the winning run in a 3-2 victory for the Red Wolves. For the week, Emery went 7-for-15 with four RBIs, a run scored, a walk and a sacrifice.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL HOME DEBUT: With their 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22, Red Wolves extended their winning streak in home openers to 22 games, a run that dates back to the 1991 season.
4-K INNING FOR FARLEY: Arkansas State senior right-hander Brandon Farley notched a rare four-strikeout inning in the Red Wolves’ 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22. After Murray State’s Ty Stetson reached on a dropped third strike to lead off the seventh inning, Farley proceeded to mow down the next three batters to close out the frame with four strikeouts. Farley faced seven batters on the afternoon, striking out five without giving up a hit or issuing a walk.
FIRST WIN FOR SHORDON: True freshman Levi Shordon made the most of his first career start against Murray State Feb. 22, picking up the win in ASU’s 11-3 victory. In four innings of work, the lefty from Simi Valley, Calif. gave up just three hits and one run, while striking out one. Shordon gave up the run in the first, then settled in and pitched three and one-thirds innings of shutout baseball to earn his first win.
CAREER HIGH FOR FAULKNER: Arkansas State junior Michael Faulkner drove in a career-high four runs in the Red Wolves’ 11-3 victory over Murray State Feb. 22. Faulkner’s previous career high was three runs, set in 2001 against Memphis and again against Louisiana-Lafayette.
MOTHER NATURE UNKIND: The Red Wolves came up on the short end of a 2-1 score against Lamar in the season opener, with both the Cardinals and Mother Nature playing a role in the loss. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Arkansas State was poised to tie the game or take the lead when the game was called due to weather. The Red Wolves had runners at first and second with just one out when heavy rainfall forced officials to call the game, giving Lamar the win.
STRONG DEBUT FOR LEE: Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee was outstanding in the season opener for the Red Wolves, striking out five batters in six shutout innings of work on the road at Lamar. Lee walked just one batter and surrendered just five hits – all singles.
FIRST HOME RUN: Arkansas State sophomore Claude Johnson slugged his first career home run during the Red Wolves’ opening weekend at Lamar. Johnson went 1-for-2 in Sunday’s finale to notch the home run. As a freshman last year, Johnson hit .220, going 11-for-50 with three doubles and two RBIs.
NEWCOMERS SHINE: Newcomers Stuart Levy and Drew Burks both enjoyed solid outings in their first two games as Red Wolves during opening weekend, each hitting .333 in a pair of games against Lamar. Burks, a junior transfer from Coffeyville CC, started at DH and went 2-for-6 with a double and a walk to post an on-base percentage of .429. Levy, a true freshman from Little Rock, drew one start at catcher and went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch to record an on-base percentage of .500.
ASU IN SEASON OPENERS: The Red Wolves are 32-32 all-time on opening day. Arkansas State dropped its season opener Feb. 17, falling 2-1 on the road at Lamar. The Red Wolves are 2-2 in season openers under head coach Tommy Raffo, defeating Texas State 4-3 in 2009 and Southern Illinois 14-5 in 2010.
SUCCESS UNDER RAFFO: Arkansas State has won two games at the Sun Belt Conference tournament each of the past two seasons under fourth-year head coach Tommy Raffo. Prior to Raffo’s coming to Jonesboro, Arkansas State had not won a game at the SBC Tournament since the 1997 season. The Red Wolves advanced to the tournament semifinals in 2010 and went 2-1 in pool play a year ago - with the only setback being a 13-inning loss to eventual runner-up Florida International.