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A-State is now 17-27 after dropping a midweek contest to Central Arkansas by a score of 14-3. The Red Wolves are 8-16 in SBC play.
Junior first baseman Kyle MacDonald hit his 11th home run of the season in the top of the first against UCA. The long ball for MacDonald ties him with Ryan Hudgins and Josh Yates, who both hit 11 in 2007, along with Chris Rich in 2005, for the sixth most in a season since 2002.
Kyle MacDonald now owns a .647 slugging percentage, which is tops in the Sun Belt Conference and 46th best in the nation. If the season ended today it would be the 11th best slugging percentage in school history.
Jeremy Brown hit his fourth home run of the season against UCA and the 11th of his career. It drove in RBI number 123 for his career, which places him seventh on the all-time list behind Murray Watts (133).
If the Sun Belt Conference Tournament started today, A-State would be in as the 10th seed.
A-State vs. Georgia Southern In-Depth Series History
A-State trails the all-time series with Georgia Southern by a count of 4-6 with all 10 meetings coming since the 2015 season when the Eagles joined the Sun Belt Conference. All of the meetings have come with Tommy Raffo as head coach of the Red Wolves.
The two teams split four meetings in the 2015 season with Georgia Southern taking two of three in Statesboro March 20-21 before A-State defeated the Eagles in the SBC Tournament on May 21. A-State won game one of the series March 20 by a score of 3-1 in 13 innings in a game that saw A-State set the school record for strikeouts with 21. Tyler Zuber recorded the first 11 outs of the game via strikeout before ending the night with 13 overall. However, the Eagles won the first game of the March 21 doubleheader 3-2 in 11 innings before winning game two 6-3. Chandler Hawkins pitched 7.2 innings in the 6-1 Red Wolves win in the SBC Tournament that gave head coach Tommy Raffo his 200th career win May 21, 2015.
In 2016, the Eagles made their first trip to Jonesboro March 24-26 and came away with a 2-1 series victory. Georgia Southern won game one 8-3 behind a strong outing from Evan Challenger, who allowed three runs in 7.2 innings on six hits with two walks and 10 punch outs. A-State was able to win game two 6-5 when Tanner Ring hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to score Tim Seldomridge. Ring led the team with three hits and two RBI, while Coulton Lee earned the win on the mound. A-State scored four runs off starter Chase Cohen, while Chris Brown took the loss by failing to get an out in the ninth inning and giving up Ring's hit. However, the Red Wolves lost game three 9-7 and were out hit 13-4 in the game.
Last season, A-State lost two of three to the Eagles in Statesboro, Ga., May 12-14 before making the trip back to Statesboro a couple of weeks later for the conference tournament. The Red Wolves lost the opener 7-4 despite a quality start from Tyler Mitzel and 2-for-3 effort from Derek Birginske, including his first career home run. A-State won a pitcher’s duel in game two 1-0 after Drew Tipton singled home the winning run in the top of the ninth. Bradey Welsh went the first six innings for the Red Wolves before Tyler Zuber entered and went the final three with all nine outs he recording coming on strikeouts. Chase Cohen went six shutout innings for the Eagles. The Red Wolves lost the finale 6-1 with Justin Felix representing the only A-State player with more than one hit in the game.
Georgia Southern enters the weekend with a 25-22 record and 14-9 mark in league play. The Eagles beat Kennesaw State 9-3 in their midweek game and most recently took two of three from Troy last weekend in league play. If the SBC Tournament started today the Eagles would be the fourth seed.
Notes from Central Arkansas Midweek
The Red Wolves are now 20-15 against Central Arkansas all-time after dropping a 14-3 decision to the Bears May 8.
Kyle MacDonald hit his 11th home run of the season in the top of the first, a two-run shot over the 15-foot center field fence 400 feet away. Jeremy Brown followed in the third with a solo shot that tied the game 3-3, but the Red Wolves wouldn’t be able to score again. The RBI for Brown was the 123rd of his career, which is seventh most in school history, 10 behind tying Murray Watts (133). It was Brown’s 119th run scored of his career, which ties him with Logan Uxa for 10th most in school history. He is also just four hits from entering the top 10 in school history with 188 and one double away from the top 10 as well. His six triples are just one away from the top 10 in A-State history and his 272 total bases are 12 out from the top 10. His 93 walks are the eighth most in school history, while his 43 hit-by-pitches are tied for third most. However, Brown is also one strikeout away from tying Ryan Emery’s 174 for the most in school history.
Jeremy Brown and Drew Tipton both extended their on-base streaks to 25 and 23 games, respectively. Brown has at least one hit in 23 of his last 25 games, while Tipton has a hit in 22 of his last 23 games.
Bryan Ayers made his first start of the season and ninth total appearance, but allowed three runs in the first inning with two strikeouts.
Zachary Patterson entered and went three scoreless with one hit allowed and three strikeouts against one walk. The scoreless outing was only his second of the season in 10 appearances and the three innings represent his second longest in relief.
Coulton Lee made his 90th appearance in the game, which is third most in school history and just one away from tying John Koch for second.
Chase Nix tossed a scoreless inning in relief and hasn’t allowed a run in three of his last four appearances.
Notes from Texas State Series
The Red Wolves improved to 13-6 all-time against Texas State and have never lost a series to the Bobcats.
Bradey Welsh picked up his seventh quality start in the Friday night game. He pitiched six innings and gave up a first-inning run, but nothing else to go with five strikeouts against one walk.
Drew Tipton was able to extend his hit streak to 16 games, but lost the streak on Saturday. The 16-game hit streak is tied for the 14th longest in school history with Matt Bryant (1996) and Willie Olivas (1992).
Kyle MacDonald smacked his 10th homer of the season in the 2-1 win Sunday and is the first player since Logan Uxa in 2012 with 10 in a season.
Tanner Kirby picked up his first win of the season in the series finale, while Bo Ritter earned his fourth save of the season. Kirby went 2.2 innings for the win and didn’t allow a hit with two strikeouts against one walk. The 2.2 innings pitched was a season high and was the most for him since throwing three innings versus South Alabama April 22 of last season. Ritter allowed a run for the first time since April 21 against Troy, a span of 6.2 innings, but was able to lock down his fourth save of the season.
Casey Vaughan hit .556 in the series (5-for-9) with two RBI. The Cabot, Ark., native has a .329 batting average in conference play and is hitting a team-high .378 over his last 12 conference games (four series) with a .452 on-base percentage.
Blake Wynn made the second start of his career, and second straight Sunday start, at designated hitter in the May 6 contest against Texas State. He lined a single to center field for the first hit of his career in his first at bat of the game. A redshirt freshman from Star City, Ark., Wynn didn’t have a hit in seven previous at bats.
Carter Holt’s 4.1 innings pitched were the second most of his career and represent the second time he’s held a team scoreless in 11 total appearances.
Alberius Wins SBC Pitcher of the Week
A-State junior pitcher Nate Alberius took home Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance April 28 against South Alabama. He went 8.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits with two strikeouts against three walks. It was his team-high eighth quality start of the season.
He’s the first weekly award winner for A-State since Alex Howard picked up SBC Player of the Week honors in the last week of the regular season last year. However, Alberius is the first A-State pitcher since 2015 to win the award. Jon Glidewell was the recipient of that award March 10, while Tyler Zuber won it two weeks prior.
It’s the 12th weekly award winner since Tommy Raffo took over in 2009 and the seventh time A-State has won Pitcher of the Week.
275 and Counting for Raffo; New Faces on Staff
A-State head coach Tommy Raffo has a career record of 275-283-1 as he is currently in his 10th season at Arkansas State. The 275 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.