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A-State improved to 20-31 on the year after taking two of three at Little Rock. The Red Wolves finished 11-19 in league play, going 7-5 over their final 12 SBC games to earn the ninth seed in the Sun Belt Tournament.
Junior Kyle MacDonald hit two home runs in the first game against the Trojans to give him back-to-back games with two bombs. He now has 15 homers on the year, which is tied with Michael Clay (1998) and Bobby Pickett (1991) for the second most in a single season in school history.
A native of Mississauga, Ontario, MacDonald now has a .679 slugging percentage, which is tops in the league and would rank as the fifth-best in school history currently. His 127 total bases would be tied for eighth best, while his 50 RBI are 10th most in a single season.
Jeremy Brown recorded his 20th double of the season in the series and is now tied with five other occurrences (four players) for third most in a season in A-State history. He has 44 doubles in his career, which is tied with Matt Burgess and Zach George for fourth most in school history.
Nate Alberius tossed his second complete game of the season in the May 18 win over Little Rock and is the first A-State pitcher since Daniel Wright in 2013 (3) with multiple complete games in a single year.
A-State vs. UT Arlington In-Depth Series History
A-State trails UT Arlington 39-46 in the all-time series that began with a 12-2 victory by Arkansas State in the 1969 season. A-State also won the second game that season 2-0 and won the first six games against the Mavericks before UTA won five in a row to get on the board in 1971-72.
The two schools competed as Southland Conference foes until the 1987 season with A-State leading the way 30-28. The two teams competed 10 more times as non-conference members after that with UT Arlington holding a 7-3 advantage in those games, including a 5-4 win over A-State in Tommy Raffo's second game as head coach in 2009.
Head coach Tommy Raffo is 6-12 against the Mavericks in his career with 17 of those matchups coming after UT Arlington joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
Earlier this season A-State traveled to Arlington, Texas to face UTA and played a doubleheader April 14 before the series finale on April 15. The Red Wolves won game one 6-4 behind a strong effort from Bradey Welsh, who went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts against one walk. Bo Ritter pitched the final 2.2 innings of the game to earn his second save of the season at the time. Winston Welch had two hits and two RBI, while Grant Hawkins hit a homer and drove in two. A-State lost game two 4-2 after the game was tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Nate Alberius tossed seven innings of two-run ball, but got a no decision. UTA took the series finale 11-2 after breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning with two runs and then scored seven in the bottom of the eighth. Drew Tipton hit a lead-off homer and Kyle MacDonald followed later in the frame with a solo bomb, but that was all of A-State’s offense.
Brown Named First-Team All-SBC; MacDonald Newcomer of the Year
A-State senior infielder Jeremy Brown was named to the 2018 All-Sun Belt Conference First Team as a utility player after splitting roughly half his games at second base and third base. The Festus, Mo., native has hit 20 doubles, tied for the third most in school history, and has a triple-slash line of .324/.405/.505 on the year. Additionally, he’s hit four homers, driven in 28 runs, scored 30 times, and racked up the second most total bases on the team with 95.
Junior first baseman Kyle MacDonald claimed the league’s Newcomer of the Year award becoming the first player in A-State history to win that accolade from the league and also just the second player to win a postseason specialty award joining Jacob Lee, who was named SBC Pitcher of the Year in 2012. MacDonald was also named to the All-SBC Second Team at first base.
A native of Mississauga, Ont., MacDonald has swatted 15 homers, tied for the second most in A-State history in a single season, to go along with 50 RBI, which is currently 10th most in school history. Additionally, MacDonald has a triple-slash line of .353/.470/.679 with the .470 on-base percentage and .679 slugging percentage ranking first in the league. The slugging percentage as it stands would rank as fifth best on A-State’s list for a single season and be the highest since the 2006 season. His on-base percentage, total bases (127), runs scored (49), and walks (38) would all rank inside the top 15 for a single season in Red Wolves’ history.
Notes from Little Rock Series
Arkansas State is now 78-46 against Little Rock all-time after two of three from the Trojans May 17-19 and clinching a spot in the Sun Belt Tournament over the weekend.
Kyle MacDonald hit two home runs in the first game of the series to give him back-to-back games with two homers. He only had one hit in the final two games, but he walked six times in the series with four being intentional. He was intentionally walked three times in the second game of the series and records indicate that to be a school record.
Bradey Welsh was able to earn his ninth quality start of the season in the opener May 17, but was denied a win. He lasted 6.2 innings and allowed three runs on four hits.
Nate Alberius tied Welsh for the most quality starts on the team with nine after throwing his second complete game of the season in the 4-1 win over Little Rock May 18. He allowed just one run on two hits in his hometown of Little Rock and became the first A-State pitcher with multiple complete games in the same season since 2013 when Daniel Wright tossed three.
Peyton Culbertson was electric out of the bullpen in two of the three games with his fastball reaching triple digits. He threw 2.1 scoreless innings and struck out four against one walk. He earned the win in the May 17 game that A-State won 7-6.
Jeremy Brown hit .429 in the series with two doubles to get to 20 on the year, and drove in the game-winning run in the May 17 game in the top of the ninth after Drew Tipton reached on a strikeout where the catcher made a wide throw to the bag at first after a pitch in the dirt.
Winston Welch had a nice series at the dish as well as he hit .417 with two doubles and three RBI. He didn’t strike out at all in the series.
The Red Wolves hit four homers in the first game of the series after hitting four in the previous game against Ole Miss on May 15.
A-State at the SBC Tournament
Arkansas State is 28-41 all-time at the SBC Tournament with its only championship coming in 1994.
The Red Wolves are the only team in the league to post at least two wins in each of the last eight SBC Tournaments.
Head coach Tommy Raffo is 16-14 all-time at the event after A-State went 2-1 last season and advanced to the semifinals.
A-State defeated UTA 4-2 last season in the tournament and is 1-1 against the Mavs all time in the SBC Tourney with a loss in 2014.
Notes from Ole Miss Midweek
Arkansas State is now 25-86 all-time against Ole Miss after dropping a 15-8 midweek decision to the Rebels May 15. It was Ole Miss’s first win in Jonesboro since 2015.
Kyle MacDonald swatted two home runs in the game to give him 13 on the year.
Jacob Jablonski went 2-for-3 with a double and his first career home run in the game. It was a three-run shot which also gave him a career-best three RBI.
Grant Hawkins hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the first for A-State. It was the team’s second lead-off homer after Drew Tipton hit one against UT Arlington April 15.
Casey Vaughan had a solid game with a 2-for-3 effort and two runs scored. He also registered his fifth outfield assist by throwing out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double.
There were a combined eight home runs in the game between both teams. Before last night the most combined homers in a home game this season was three on March 17 against Coastal Carolina. It is the most combined homers in a game at Tomlinson Stadium since May 13, 2007 when A-State and ULM totaled eight.
278 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 278-287-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 278 wins are the third most at the school behind J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson and Bill Bethea.
Raffo has a completely new staff to assist him this season. Rick Guarno joined the staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with his most recent stint at UT Martin. Guarno played seven seasons of professional baseball before getting into coaching.
Rowdy Hardy is the team’s new pitching coach and comes to A-State from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M. He played six seasons of professional baseball before getting into coaching.
Volunteer assistant Craig Massoni rounds out the staff and he just concluded his playing days after five seasons of professional baseball.