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A-State improved to 8-5 on the year with a come-from-behind 9-8 walk-off win over Southern Illinois Tuesday night. The Red Wolves are now 4-0 in midweek games, all at home, and are 1-1 in extra innings.
Drew Tipton send the A-State fans home happy with the walk-off single. It was the redshirt sophomore’s first career walk-off hit and finished off a three-hit night for his second three-hit game of the season.
Nate Alberius recorded his fourth straight quality start to open his A-State career, but left the game without a decision. The Red Wolves now have nine quality starts this season after having only 10 a season ago.
Bryan Ayers picked up his first victory of the season after throwing the final three innings of the win over SIU. He allowed a home run, but recorded the next nine outs in order.
A-State is set to open Sun Belt Conference play at home for the second straight year after hosting ULM last season.
A-State vs. Coastal Carolina In-Depth Series History
A-State trails the all-time series with the Chanticleers 0-3 after getting swept by Coastal in Conway, S.C., a season ago. The Red Wolves dropped the opener by a score of 5-0 after Alex Cunningham hurled a complete-game, one-hit shutout. Tobias Johnson got the team’s only hit. A-State dropped game two 11-6 despite four hits from Alex Howard, including his first career home run, and three hits by Grant Hawkins. The Red Wolves fell in the finale 6-1.
Arkansas State has only faced one other team from South Carolina with a 1995 matchup versus Clemson in Arlington, Texas at the UTA Invitational. A-State lost the game 7-2.
Coastal Carolina enters the weekend with a 12-7 record and is ranked 30th in Collegiate Baseball’s most recent poll. The Chants are coming off a 12-10 loss to UConn at home and are currently on a three-game losing streak. Coastal has only played away from home once, a 13-0 win at the College of Charleston Feb. 21.
Notes from Southern Illinois Game
A-State is now 25-48 all-time against Southern Illinois after the March 13 win in 11 innings by a score of 9-8. Head coach Tommy Raffo is now 8-2 against the Salukis in his tenure.
Drew Tipton gave A-State the win with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th. It is A-State’s second walk-off win of the season along with the 7-6 win over SEMO Feb. 20. This was the team’s second extra-inning game and first win in extras after losing 2-1 to New Orleans March 2, also in 11 innings. A native of Bryant, Ark., Tipton posted his second three-hit game of the season and first multiple-RBI game of the year.
Nate Alberius hurled 6.2 innings in the win and allowed three runs, but none were earned. He struck out six and walked four with the outing giving him his fourth straight quality start to begin his A-State career. It was the team’s ninth of the season in just 13 games.
Bryan Ayers was the winning pitcher in the game and tossed a season-high three innings after only throwing two so far this year. He gave up a three-run homer to allow SIU to take an 8-7 lead, but retired the final nine hitters he faced in order with five strikeouts. He is now 1-0 on the season.
Grant Hawkins walked twice to extend his on-base streak to 13 games, which accounts for every game this season.
Cullen Ray drove in two runs and is tied for the team lead in RBI with nine. He has three multiple-RBI games to tie for the team lead despite only hitting .182 so far.
Casey Vaughan returned to the lineup to make his first start in right field and had two hits to give him his first multi-hit game of the year.
Andrew Lannon pinch hit in the game and drove home the tying run with a RBI ground out, the first RBI of his short career. He then played a key role in giving the Red Wolves the win with his first career hit, a single to right, to move Jacob Jablonski to third with one out in the 11th inning. Jablonski came around to score on Tipton’s hit.
Notes from Missouri State Series
A-State is now 23-44 all-time against Missouri State after dropping two of three to the Bears March 9-11. A-State lost game one 12-4 before winning game two 4-1. The Red Wolves then lost the series in a heartbreaker 5-4 after leading 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth inning.
Not much went right in the 12-4 loss to open the series with Bradey Welsh getting tagged for seven runs in four innings to end A-State’s quality starts streak at six games. Chase Nix made his season debut and allowed four runs (three earned) in one inning of work, while Korey Wasson pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the second appearance of his young career. Carter Holt tossed two innings and allowed just one run.
Andrew Lannon subbed in for his first action of the season behind the plate and had two plate appearances, including a walk and was able to score his first career run. Blake Wynn subbed in and scored the first run of his career after reaching on a fielder’s choice.
Coulton Lee was able to improve to 2-1 on the year with his second straight quality start after setting career highs in innings pitched (7) and strikeouts (7). He only allowed four hits, walked one, and gave up one run. He retired the final 12 batters he faced after allowing a lead-off double in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Jesse Kutzke registered a two-out save in the win after entering the game in the eighth after two walks by Bryan Ayers. He retired all six batters he faced. The three saves are already halfway to the six that Tyler Zuber earned last year to lead the team.
Drew Tipton tied his career high and set a season high with three hits in the game. He also stole his second base of the season and ninth of his career.
Jaylon Deshazier broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run bomb into the left-field bullpen. He has two homers on the year, tied for the team lead, and nine RBI, also tied for tops on the squad.
The win on March 10 for the Red Wolves was the first over Missouri State since March 13, 2013 and broke a four-game losing streak. It was the first win in Springfield since 2010.
Peyton Culberton allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings and Bo Ritter came in and tied a season high with three innings pitched and retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, but did allow the tying run. A-State lost in walk-off fashion on a sacrifice fly for its second walk-off loss of the year.
Cullen Ray registered the first three-hit game of his career and hit his second career double, while Andrew Leggo had the first two hits of his career in his first start. Jeremy Brown returned from a four-game hiatus and saw his first career action at third base.
Grant Hawkins hit his first triple of the season, and fourth career, to extend his on-base streak to 12 games and hit streak to four games. He also stole a base in the series to give him six on the year.
With Arkansas State’s 9-8 walk-off win over Southern Illinois, the team now has 28 walk-off victories since Tommy Raffo became head coach in 2009. This time it was a Drew Tipton single providing the dramatics. This is A-State’s second of the season after Jacob Jablonski was hit by a pitch to send the Red Wolves to a 7-6 walk-off win against SEMO Feb. 20. That was the first walk-off HBP during that time frame.
15 of those walk-offs have now been singles after Tipton’s hit March 13 versus the Salukis. Before that the last was when Justin Felix knocked in the winning run of A-State’s 9-8 win over Little Rock in 18 innings May 19, 2017. A-State has won on three walk-off wild pitches under Raffo, while errors, sacrifice flies, fielder’s choices, and home runs have happened twice. Only once has the walk-off win occurred on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The two home runs were a three-run homer by Zach George against ULM April 6, 2012 for a 7-6 win and a solo shot by Alex Potts to beat FAU March 23, 2013 by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings.
Head coach Tommy Raffo’s first victory was a walk-off win against Texas State in Arlington, Texas against Texas State when Josh DeMoney singled home Cody Pace for a 4-3 win in 10 innings.
Since 2014, the walk-off wins have been less traditional with only six of the 12 being singles. During that time frame, two have been via wild pitch and fielder’s choice, while the other two were on a sacrifice fly and hit-by-pitch.
Five of the walk-off wins have been by scores of 4-3, while four have been by scores of 3-2 and 7-6, each. A-State has had one walk-off victory by a 1-0 score, which was last season versus SIU when A-State won a walk-off wild pitch. The highest scoring walk-off win was a 13-12 win May 26, 2016 against Troy. Tanner Ring capped A-State’s comeback in that SBC Tournament game after being behind 12-4.
Three of them have now been by scores of 9-8, but all three have been extra-inning affairs. The first was a walk-off walk by Murray Watts on April 24, 2010 before last season’s 9-8, 18-inning win with Justin Felix’s walk-off single, followed by Drew Tipton’s single to give A-State a 9-8 win in 11 innings over Southern Illinois March 13.
National and Conference Rankings
A-State ranks second in the conference in WHIP at 1.25 and 49th in the nation, while ranking third in the SBC in walks per nine innings pitched and 71st in the country with a 3.55 ratio. The pitching staff also ranks third in the league and 52nd in the country in hits allowed per nine innings with a 7.71 mark.
Grant Hawkins .530 OBP is second in the league 24th nationally.
Bradey Welsh’s 0.81 WHIP is 48th in the nation and second in the SBC, while Nate Alberius is eighth in the Sun Belt with a 0.93 WHIP.
266 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 266-261-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 266 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.