ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES (1-3)
vs. Evansville Purple Aces (1-1)
February 24-26, 2012 6:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. (DH) & 1:00 p.m.
Tomlinson Stadium & Kell Field (1,200) Jonesboro, Arkansas
Radio: KNEA 970 AM & AStateRedWolves.com
LiveStats at AStateRedWolves.com
LEADING OFF: The Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-3) host their first weekend series of the 2012 season when the Purple Aces of Evansville (1-1) visit Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field Feb. 24-26. Originally scheduled as a three-game series, the two teams will now play four games over the course of the weekend. The series is part of a string of 10 consecutive home games for Arkansas State, and gets underway Friday at 6:00 p.m. Originally scheduled to play once Saturday, the two teams will now play a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m., and Sunday’s finale will begin at 1:00 p.m. as well. All ASU baseball games may be heard on KNEA 970 AM and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats may also be accessed by logging on to AStateRedWolves.com.
THE TEAMS: After opening the season 0-3 on the road, the Red Wolves made the most of their Feb. 22 home opener, defeating Murray State 11-3 at Tomlinson Stadium. The Red Wolves trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth, but plated four runs in the bottom of the frame and did not trail again. Leading 5-3 after seven innings, ASU exploded for six runs in the eighth to put the game away. Evansville travels to Jonesboro with a 1-1 record on the young season. The Purple Aces came up short in their season opener against Belmont Feb. 17, losing 2-0 before evening the slate with a 4-3 victory over Lipscomb Feb. 18.
THE EVANSVILLE SERIES: Evansville leads the series 5-1, including a 2-1 series win over the Red Wolves last year in Jonesboro. Arkansas State won the series opener 10-5, but Evansville came back to win the final two games and claim the series victory. ASU’s Jacob Lee, who is scheduled to make the start on the mound when the series gets underway Friday night, took the loss despite striking out eight batters in seven innings of work. Evansville scored four runs in the third, which proved to be all it would need as ASU stranded 11 runners in the 4-1 EU victory. The Purple Aces edged the Red Wolves 3-2 in the Sunday finale. Junior Daniel Wright, who will square off against Evansville in Saturday’s game one, took the loss against the Purple Aces despite giving up just three runs and striking out six in six innings of work.
ON THE MOUND FOR ASU: Senior right-hander Jacob Lee will get the start on the mound when the series opens Friday night. Lee has made one appearance on the season, working six shutout innings in the season opener last Friday at Lamar. In his six innings of work, Lee struck out six batters and walked one, giving up five hits along the way. Junior Daniel Wright will open Saturday’s action against the Purple Aces. Wright has made two appearances on the season with one start. He has given up five runs (two earned) in five innings of work and will bring an ERA of 3.60 into the weekend. Wright has given up six hits, waked one and struck out two. Sophomore right-hander Bradley Wallace will start in Saturday’s second game. Wallace has made two appearances on the season, both in relief, and has given up three runs in two innings of work for an ERA of 13.50. Wallace has fanned two batters and has not issued a walk. Sunday’s series closer will begin with junior right-hander Morgan Croft on the mound. Croft has made one appearance thus far this season, working one inning in relief. He gave up four runs on two hits, with a walk and no strikeouts.
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.
LEE ON PACE: Senior right-hander Jacob Lee is on pace to become the Red Wolves’ career strikeout leader. With 199 strikeouts in his career, the 2011 preseason SBC Pitcher of the Year needs 53 strikeouts to break the 40-plus year-old record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg in 1967-70.
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.
HITTING STREAK CARRIES OVER: First baseman Zach George has picked up a hit in each of the Red Wolves four games this season. George’s hit streak now stands at 12 games after getting a hit in ASU’s final eight games of the 2011 season.
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. Lee stands at 199 strikeouts in his career and now needs just 53 strikeouts on the season to become the all-time strikeout leader at Arkansas State.
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 last 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.
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