Arkansas State at Southern Illinois
March 28, 2017 | 5:00 p.m.
Carbondale, Ill. | Itchy Jones Stadium

Radio: 95.3 FM The Ticket | TV: ESPN3 | Video: ESPN3
Video/Audio |  Live Stats | Tickets Tickets | Game Notes: A-State | Southern Illinois

• A-State is 23-48 against the Salukis all-time in a series that began back in 1948 with A-State taking both meetings that season by scores of 3-2 and 8-6. Arkansas State went on to win the first meeting in 1949 before SIU claimed its first victory in the second meeting that year 6-3. The two teams played yearly from 1948 through 1957 with SIU holding a 13-6 advantage despite A-State winning the first three meetings. The Salukis won all four games between the two schools in 1953.
• The two schools played each other fairly frequently through the 1978 season with Southern Illinois holding a 24-2 advantage after opening 13-6 against A-State from 1948-57. However, the series has been more even lately with the Red Wolves holding a 15-11 edge in meetings since 1989, including a 6-2 mark in the last eight contests.
• Speaking of those last eight contests, all of them have come under Coach Raffo’s watch and are the only eight times he’s faced the Salukis. The Red Wolves lost the first time the two teams met under Raffo in 2009 by a score of 10-3 in Carbondale. Since then, A-State had won six straight, including last season’s 1-0 and 7-1 wins before SIU defeated the Red Wolves 4-2 in Jonesboro on March 15 in a game that was postponed a day due to weather. Collin Cahill started, but lasted just 3.1 innings with A-State using five pitchers in the game. Southern Illinois used six pitchers with starter Austin McPheron getting the win. Jeremy Brown hit a home run in the game and led the team with two hits, while A-State only managed four hits as a team.
• Southern Illinois enters the game at 12-12 and lost two of three to Jacksonville State last weekend. The Salukis lost their last midweek game by a score of 13-10 in Carbondale, Ill. SIU is also scheduled to play at Eastern Illinois the day after facing A-State.

• A-State lost all three games against the defending national champions in what was the first three meeting against the school all-time and also was Coastal Carolina’s first home SBC series.
• The Red Wolves were one-hit in Friday’s 5-0 loss as Alex Cunningham tossed a complete-game shutout. Tobias Johnson got the only hit for A-State as the Red Wolves were shut out for the first time since a 13-0 loss to Missouri State March 1 and for the first time in a conference game since a 2-0 loss to UTA in the second game of a doubleheader on March 12 of last season. Bryan Ayers pitched a season-high 6.2 innings and had shut the Chanticleers out up to that point, but allowed four runs. Joe Schrimpf walked in the game with an out in the top of the seventh to end the perfect game before Johnson’s single in the eighth inning ended the no hitter.
• A-State lost game two 11-6, but Alex Howard was a bright spot with a 4-for-5 effort that
included his first home run of the season. He also set season highs in runs (3), hits (4), and total bases (8). He also added two hits in the finale to hit .545 for the series and raise his average from .186 to .250 for the season.
Tyler Zuber threw the final three innings of Sunday’s game and didn’t allow a run to lower his ERA to 0.42.
• The series sweep was the first time the Red Wolves have been sweeped in a conference road series since South Alabama last season (April 8-10).

• The Red Wolves’ 9-8 loss to the Governors was the first walk-off decision of the season for the team and dropped A-State’s record against Austin Peay to 8-6 all-time.
• A-State hit three home runs in the game, which is the most by the team in a single game this season, and only the second time A-State has hit multiple homers in one game with the other being the first game of the March 18 doubleheader against ULM. A-State has lost both games.
Jeremy Brown hit his fourth home run of the season, most on the team, and seventh of his career. Drew Tipton hit the first home run of his career to left field in the top of the fifth inning, while Joe Schrimpf left the yard for the second time this year and the 13th time of his career, which is the most among current players.
Bradey Welsh made the first start of his career and allowed two first-inning runs, but held the Governors scoreless in his other two innings of work. The three innings pitched are a new career-high for the Marshfield, Mo., native. His previous career high was 2.2 against Omaha on Feb. 28 of last season.
• Junior Bo Ritter pitched four innings and struck out a career-high five batters in the outing, which broke his previous career high of three that he had accomplished several times, the last coming on Feb. 21 at Ole Miss.
• The Red Wolves stole five bases in the fourth inning against Austin Peay, which is the most in a single inning this season with the second most being three against NYIT Feb. 18 in the second game of a doubleheader in the sixth inning. A-State has only stolen five or more bases in an entire game nine times, including this game versus Austin Peay, since 2002.
Grant Hawkins hit the first two doubles of his career in the game. Hawkins hit a triple and two home runs before hitting his first double at Arkansas State.
• The Red Wolves and Governors were supposed to play Tuesday as well, but had to cancel the game due to rain that moved through earlier in the afternoon. A-State has now had eight games changed in some form or fashion due to weather this year, but the Tuesday game that was cancelled was the first road game to be altered due to weather this season.

• The Red Wolves improved to 37-29 all-time against ULM after winning the last two games of a three-game series against the Warhawks by scores of 12-6 and 8-3 after dropping the first game 5-3.
• Arkansas State has now won 11 conference-opening series as a member of the Sun Belt, but fell to 10-16 in SBC openers with the 5-3 loss. Coach Raffo is 5-4 in conference openers and has won six of nine SBC-opening series in his tenure. This was the first series win to open a season since 2014 and A-State has now lost three straight Sun Belt openers. Friday’s opener got moved to Saturday because of lightning and rain Friday night to mark the third straight season the Red Wolves haven’t been able to play their conference opener on Friday night and had to wait until a Saturday doubleheader. In 2015 A-State had to move its home series against UT Arlington Jackson, Miss., and play a doubleheader due to snow and ice in Jonesboro before last season’s opener at UTA was moved to Friday due to rain that moved through the Arlington area.
Joe Schrimpf hit .500 and scored four runs during the series and hit a double and his second home run of the season in the opener. Jeremy Brown hit .400 and led the team with six RBI, while Grant Hawkins hit his first two career home runs on March 18, one in each game. The first was a solo shot, while the second one was a two-run round-tripper. Hawkins had three hits, scored three runs, and had three RBI in the second game with the three runs tying a season-high and the other two setting high marks this season.
Bryan Ayers lasted a season-high 6.1 innings in the opener, but also gave up a season-high 10 hits, both of which were team-highs this year. Tyler Zuber earned his first win of the season in his first decision of the year in the second game March 18 after pitching 3.1 innings and allowing just two hits and striking out two with no walks. Tanner Kirby improved to 4-0 on the season after picking up the win on March 19. He pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning in game one March 18, but tossed three innings the next day and allowed just one hit and one walk, while striking out one. Zachary Patterson tossed two scoreless innings in the opener March 18 and hasn’t allowed a run in three straight innings.

• Arkansas State has hit nine triples so far this season, which is the most in the Sun Belt
Conference and 27th in the nation.
Garrett Rucker has already hit four triples, including one March 19 against ULM, to lead the league and rank seventh in the country. The four triples already ranks as a tie for the eighth most in a single season in school history. Five different players have tripled for A-State so far this season.
• Last season the Red Wolves set the school record for three-baggers with 22, breaking the record of 20 that had stood since the 1949 season.

• A-State has the 21st most steals nationally with 40 on the year and is second in the league in the category. The Red Wolves stole five bases against Austin Peay March 22, all in the same inning, which is the most by the Red Wolves this season in one inning. A-State has only stole five bases in a game nine times since 2002 and stole seven bases against NYIT in the second game of a Feb. 18 doubleheader for the most steals in a game since 2002. The Red Wolves added three steals in the series at Coastal Carolina with Alex Howard, Jake Bakamus, and Tobias Johnson each stealing a bag.
• A-State only had 48 steals a season ago and the school record is 91, which was done twice in 1982 and 1983. The Red Wolves stole 63 bases in the 2014 season, which is the most in the Tommy Raffo era.
Grant Hawkins leads the way with an 12-for 13 mark stealing with the 12 steals ranking as 19th most in the country. Garrett Rucker has seven steals on the year to rank 10th in the conference, while Drew Tipton and Jake Bakamus each have five steals. 11 different players have stolen a base for the team this season.

• The Red Wolves are fourth in the SBC with 212 strikeouts and that comes out to a 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings ratio that is third in the league and 24th in the country. However, the Red Wolves are first in the league as a team with 78 strikeouts looking with ULL the next closest team at 62.
Bryan Ayers is fourth in the conference with 44 punch outs, while Tyler Zuber is tied for 11th with 32 despite only throwing 21.1 innings so far this season. Additionally, Ayers is first in the league in strikeouts looking with 22 issued.
• Ayers ranks 50th in the nation in strikeouts. Ayers also has a 11.65 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio and ranks second in the league and 50th in the country.

• A-State set the school record for hit-by-pitches a season ago with 98 and has already been hit 40 times this season, which is the most in the conference and 5th in the nation. A-State was hit twice against Austin Peay March 22 before being hit four times in the series against the Chanticleers.
Jake Bakamus has already been hit 11 times and ranks fourth in the nation along with first in the conference in the category. He was hit 21 times last season, which was the third most in a single season in school history and fourth most in the country in 2016.
Joe Schrimpf is second on the team and second in the conference with eight HBP’s with Drew Tipton third on the squad with five. 12 different players have been hit with a pitch for the Red Wolves this season.

• A-State head coach Tommy Raffo is now 241-241-1 in his ninth season. The 239 wins are the third most in school history behind Bill Bethea and J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson.
• Coach Raffo’s 200th win came back in the 2015 SBC Tournament and tied him with Richard Johnson for third most wins, while his 201st victory, that also came in the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Tournament moved him ahead of Johnson.

• The A-State baseball team welcomes 16 newcomers to the 2017 team as they join 15 returning letter winners and three redshirts.
• Seven of the newcomers are from junior colleges, while nine of the kids are high schoolers.
• Freshman left-handed pitcher and Sunday’s scheduled starter Collin Cahill was listed as the fifth-best freshman in the league by (full article: with a paid subscription)
• The preview from also mentions transfer catcher Justin Felix and says, “He is their most projectable pro prospect, a 6.85 runner, with home run power who handles pitchers well.”
• 12 of the 16 newcomers have made an appearance this season.

• The 2017 version of the Red Wolves features 19 players from Arkansas with four apiece coming from Missouri and Tennessee. There are two players each from Arizona and Washington, with one player from each of Colorado, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
• A-State has five seniors, 15 juniors, three sophomores, and 11 freshmen.
• There are three redshirts from a season ago with RS-Senior Derek Birginske returning from an injury he suffered last season. The Russellville, Ark., native has pitched and played in the outfield at A-State, but is expected to only play outfield this season. The other two redshirts were pitcher Brandon Stuckenschneider and Drew Tipton, who were both true freshmen a season ago.
• A-State added two sets of brothers in freshmen Chase and Colten Nix (Benton, Ark.) and
Conrad and Cullen Ray (Germantown, Tenn.). The Rays are the son of former A-State football player Mike Ray, while Chase and Colten give A-State three players from Benton along with Coulton Lee.
• Speaking of three’s, A-State added three true freshmen from Star City, Ark., in Garry Hill, Austin Powell, and Blake Wynn. The trio led the Bulldogs to a 2015 4A State Championship. The Red Wolves also picked up three junior college transfers from New Mexico Military Institute in Justin Felix, Alex Howard, and Winston Welch. That trio was coached by former A-State assistant coach Chris Cook.