MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (4/27/12) - The Arkansas State Red Wolves took an early 7-0 lead and went on to defeat the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 8-5 Friday night in the Sun Belt Conference series opener between the two teams at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
The Red Wolves led 7-2 after three innings and 8-5 after five, then turned it over to the bullpen to preserve the win. Sophomore Bradley Wallace, senior Brandon Farley and junior John Koch combined to give up just one hit over the final four innings, with Koch closing the game out in the ninth to earn his ASU-record ninth save of the season.
With the win, ASU improved to 22-18 on the season and 11-6 in Sun Belt Conference action. The Blue Raiders dropped to 24-20 overall and 10-9 in league play.
Arkansas State scored four runs in the second and three more in the third to jump out to the 7-0 advantage before the Blue Raiders were able to get on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the third.
Freshman catcher Stuart Levy hit his first career home run, a two-out solo shot in the second to put the Red Wolves on board. Second baseman Zach Maggio added a three-run home run later in the inning to increase the ASU advantage to 4-0.
An RBI single from designated hitter Ryan Emery bumped the ASU lead to 5-0 in the third. The Red Wolves added two more runs in the inning when shortstop Dustin Jones reached on a fielder's choice to bring home a run, and an MTSU error when Levy reached on a bases-loaded fielder's choice made it 7-0.
Middle Tennessee scored twice in the third, getting an RBI groundout from catcher Michael Adkins and a solo home run from left fielder Justin Guidry. Arkansas State added a run in the fourth, but the Blue Raiders scored twice in the bottom of the inning, getting sacrifices from third baseman Hank LaRue and designated hitter Robert Lawrence to cut the ASU advantage to 8-4.
Guidry added a solo home run in the fifth to pull MTSU within three at 8-5, but Wallace came on to throw two shutout innings, Farley retired the side in the eighth and Koch closed out the win in the ninth.
Senior starter Jacob Lee picked up the win on the mound to improve to 5-1 on the season for the Red Wolves. Lee gave up five runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking two. Hunter Adkins took the loss for MTSU, lasting just three innings while giving up seven runs on five hits, with three strikeouts and four walks.
Maggio, Levy, Johnson, Emery, Jones and center fielder Michael Faulkner all had one hit for ASU, with Maggio driving in three runs. Guidry was 2-for-5 with two runs batted in to lead MTSU.
The Red Wolves and Blue Raiders will resume the series Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
ASU career strikeout leader Jacob Lee fanned two batters on the night to bring his career total to 257. Lee broke the previous ASU record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg from 1967-70 when he struck out five batters April 22 at FAU to finish the game with 255 career strikeouts.
Second baseman Zach Maggio's three-run home run in the second inning was the second home run of his career and tied his single-game high of 3 RBIs set against UALR May 21, 2011.
Catcher Stuart Levy's second-inning home run was the first of his career.
With a walk in the third, freshman right fielder Collin Massanelli extended his team-high on-base streak to 23 games. He has now reached base in every game in which he has played at ASU.
Junior center fielder Michael Faulkner stole third in the first inning for his 30th stolen base of the season, breaking the previous ASU record of 29 set by Jerome Miller in 1978. The stolen base was Faulkner's 71st of his career, which is 13 short of the career record set by Miller from 1976-79.
Junior John Koch earned his ninth save of the season and 13th of his career, both of which are ASU records.
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