Sun Belt Baseball Week 5 Recap

Conference play has begun as the Sun Belt kicked off the opening weekend of conference play with four in-state series of the five series played on the weekend. Three in-state rivalries played out as UALR visited Arkansas State; Louisiana Lafayette travelled to Louisiana Monroe; and Troy headed to South Alabama.

The weekend would see lots of drama and some outstanding performances. I'm going to do something a little different with the recap this week. I'm going to focus on the weekend series themselves with just notes on the midweek games. I'm also going to spend MORE time on Arkansas State and LESS time on the rest of the Sun Belt because you deserve it and so do they!

Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week

Georgia State Panthers' Nic Wilson (Sr., 1B) had an amazing week hitting .578 (11-for-19) while driving in 15 RBI and scoring eight runs. Wilson clubbed 5 home runs this week, including two against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to stand at eight homers on the season.

Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week

The Troy Trojans benefitted from Tanner Hicks' (Sr., RHP) first complete game of the season as he shut out the South Alabama Jaguars Friday night. Hicks allowed six hits and a walk while inducing two inning-ending double-plays and allowing only one runner to reach third base the entire game.

Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-0, 11-8, 25 RPI)

Austin Baker, 3 Home Runs, Red Wolves Roll

The Arkansas State Red Wolves went 4-0 this week winning at Murray State Racers 27-7 during the midweek and sweeping the UALR Trojans (3-0, 5-3, 4-3) during the weekend. Austin Baker (So., CF) had a record setting night scoring seven runs in the game and racking up 14 total bases which were both new school records while tying the school record for home runs in a game with three. Baker said, "We usually look to hit fastballs and they were throwing them, and some off-speed pitches on the plate," as he described his plate approach for his historic night. The Red Wolves travel to No. 13 Ole Miss for a midweek game before heading to play UT Arlington this weekend.

UALR Trojans (0-3, 9-8, 43 RPI)

The UALR Trojans went 1-3 this week winning a midweek matchup against the UAPB Golden Lions 9-3 but were swept by the Arkansas State Red Wolves (0-3, 3-5, 3-4). UALR travels to play at Oklahoma and then hosts South Alabama this weekend.

Arkansas State Red Wolves win series over UALR Trojans 3-0

JONESBORO, Ark. – Dan Owen (So., RHP) set the tone Friday night and Matt Burgess (So., 1B) was clutch on Saturday while Dustin Jones (Sr., SS) and Stuart Levy (Jr., C) kept the offense rolling for the series as the Arkansas State Red Wolves swept the UALR Trojans to start Sun Belt Conference play 3-0.

Friday night featured a match-up of UALR's proven staff ace Travis McDonald (Sr., LHP), who was coming of a stellar outing against Ole Miss, facing Dan Owen, who was making his first career Friday night start for the Red Wolves. After Owen escaped a bases loaded, no-out jam in the first without allowing a run the game remained scoreless until Jones hit a two-out, two-run double and would later score on a failed pick-off attempt. Owen struck out 10 over seven scoreless and combined with two relievers to shut out the Trojans and take game one 3-0. David Owen K's 10, Red Wolves Win

Game 2 took a different turn as the Trojans jumped to an early lead on a two-run homer, Tanner Rockwell's (Jr., 2B) third on the year. The Red Wolves would come back to tie the game and take a two-run lead on three two-out RBI hits by Burgess. Arkansas State starter Chandler Hawkins (So., LHP) lasted six innings for the win. Morgan Croft (RSr., RHP) got the save, his second of the season, and the Red Wolves clinched the series 2-0.

Trying to avoid a sweep, UALR would again jump on the scoreboard first as Ryan Scott (So., DH) hit a solo shot for his first homer of the year as part of a two-run fourth for a 2-0 lead. The Red Wolves quickly erased the lead as Zach Maggio (Sr., DH) keyed a three-run rally first with an RBI single and then scored on a balk. The Trojans would tie the game in the ninth with a Scott RBI single. Burgess would drive in Jones in the 14th for the walk-off victory that swept the Trojans 3-0. Matt Burgess Clutch in Series Sweep of UALR

Arkansas State starters had a 2.64 ERA with a 4-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Owen had the best start for the Red Wolves pitching seven scoreless innings with 10 strike outs.

Red Wolves relievers posted a 0.60 ERA with a 3.5-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Colton Kibler (Jr., RHP) pitched six innings in three relief appearances allowing an earned run and striking out two. Cody Woodhouse (Sr., RHP) pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in two relief appearances which included 4.2 innings in game three while holding the Trojans in extras. Croft had three, one-inning appearances allowing no runs and earning his first two saves of the season.

Arkansas State hit .250 with a .319 on-base-percentage. Levy and Jones each went 5-for-12 (.417) for the series to lead the offense as Jones lead the team with four runs scored and Burgess lead with four RBI. Arkansas State was 5-for-5 on steal attempts moving to 30-for-34 on the year and have already stolen more bases than all of last season.

UALR starters had an ERA of 6.07 with a 4.7-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. McDonald had the best start for the Trojans pitching 5.2 innings and allowing three earned runs with three strike outs. In relief the Trojans had a 1.13 ERA and a 2.3-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Jess Harbin (So., RHP) led the way in one scoreless relief appearance going 3.1 innings with a strike out.

UALR hit .227 with a .264 on-base-percentage with two home runs. Scott lead the Trojans in hitting at .571 (4-of-7) and tied with Rockwell for the home run lead with one. Rockwell tied Sam Vogel (RJr., LF) with two RBI. Vogel led the team with two runs scored.

No. 7 Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (3-0, 17-2, 29 RPI)

Louisiana Lafayette went 4-0 this week defeating Tulane in the midweek 7-4 and then sweeping the UL Monroe Warhawks (4-1, 14-1, 21-2) during the weekend. The Cajuns play a home-and-home with Nicholls State before hosting Georgia State this weekend.

Louisiana Monroe Warhawks (0-3, 7-14, 172 RPI)

Louisiana Monroe went 0-5 this week losing a midweek two-game home-and-home against Jackson State (6-9, 2-5) before being swept by Louisiana Lafayette (1-4, 1-14, 2-21). The Warhawks spend the week on the road with a midweek matchup at Southern Miss before playing at Troy this weekend.

No. 7 Louisiana Lafayette Crushes Louisana Monroe in Dominant Fashion

MONROE, La. – The No. 7 Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns exploded this weekend scoring 39 runs in a road series at their in-state rival the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks. While the offense will get all of the attention it must be noted that the Cajuns' pitching staff performed equally well allowing only 4 runs on the weekend…the Cajuns' offense scoring that many Friday night alone.

Carson Baranik Scoreless Streak Ends in Rout

Austin Robichaux and Carson Baranik continued their domination of opposing hitters as Robichaux pitched a complete game allowing an earned run and striking out 10 and Baranik's scoreless inning streak ended at 30.2 innings as he allowed one earned run over six innings pitched. Cajuns' starters posted a 1.35 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in this series.

Michael Strentz' 3 HR Lead No. 7 Louisiana Lafayette to Sweep

Michael Strentz paced the offensive attack with three home runs out of the 10 total home runs hit by the Cajuns this weekend. Strentz lead the team with six RBI while Blake Trahan contributed six runs and Ryan Leonards hit .583. The Cajuns' stole four bases on five attempts.

The Warhawks didn't help themselves by committing eight errors on the weekend. Jeff Fuller led the team hitting .478 and Anthony Herrera had two RBI and a run scored. ULM hit .170 as a team while striking out 28 times. Warhawk starters posted a 12.46 ERA and a 2.77 WHIP on the weekend.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-1, 12-8, 84 RPI)

Western Kentucky went 2-3 this week losing a two-game midweek set at Georgia (7-26, 6-8) and then winning the weekend series with Georgia State (5-6, 4-3, 6-5). WKU plays at Kentucky before hosting Texas State this weekend.

Georgia State Panthers (1-2, 10-10, 195 RPI)

Georgia State went 3-2 this week sweeping a two-game midweek against the Siena Saints (15-9, 19-5) before dropping their first ever Sun Belt Conference series to WKU (6-5, 3-4, 5-6). Georgia State hosts Georgia Tech in the midweek before travelling to play No. 7 Louisiana Lafayette.

Western Kentucky Squeaks Past Georgia State 2-1

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers managed to steal the series this weekend at the Georgia State Panthers two games to one. The Hilltoppers hit a meager .134 against the Panther's pitching staff.

Georgia State had better starting pitching in the series with a 4.39 ERA versus the WKU staff's 6.50 ERA. However, the Hilltoppers would be bailed out by their bullpen which posted a 1.93 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP while the Panthers' pen had a 3.29 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP blowing a late lead in the rubber match of the series.

Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week Nic Wilson lead the offense hitting .500 (6-for-12) with two solo homers and six RBI. Chad Prain scored three runs. The Panthers came in leading the Sun Belt in batting average but managed to hit .205 as a team against WKU. Kenny Anderson had the best Panther start throwing seven innings while allowing an earned run.

Ryan Church hit .384, scoring three runs and driving in two more with two home runs to lead the WKU offense. WKU was more effective on the base paths with six steals in seven attempts to the Panthers four steals in seven attempts. Austin Clay had the Hilltoppers' best start allowing two earned runs over 5.2 innings pitched.

Troy Trojans (1-1, 10-8, 232 RPI)

Troy went 1-1 this week splitting a weekend set at South Alabama (5-0, 1-2) and will finish the weather suspended rubber game Wednesday. Troy hosts Jacksonville State before playing a home-and-home with Alabama State and then hosts Louisiana Monroe this weekend.

South Alabama (1-1, 10-8, 73 RPI)

South Alabama went 2-1 this week defeating Southern Miss 5-1 before splitting with Troy (0-5, 2-1) and will finish the weather suspended game three on Wednesday. South Alabama is on the road this week playing at No. 4 LSU and then at UALR this weekend.

Troy Splits Weather Shortened Series with South Alabama 1-1

South Alabama, Troy, Open Conference Play

MOBILE, Ala. – The Troy Trojans and South Alabama Jaguars have split their series…for now. The rubber match of the series was suspended with no outs in the bottom of the fourth Saturday afternoon with Troy leading 3-1. The game couldn't be played on Sunday due to rain so they will pick up where they left off Wednesday night at 6:00 pm…weather permitting.

Tanner Hicks Shuts Out South Alabama

Trojan Tanner Hicks earned Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance Friday night pitching a complete game shut out while striking out five in the win. Shane McCain nearly matched his teammate on Saturday allowing a run over eight innings pitched. Kevin Hill was the tough-luck loser for the Jags with a quality start lasting 6.1 innings and allowing three earned runs against Hicks. Locke St. John had another solid outing pitching 7.2 innings with an earned run on seven hits with five strike outs.

Troy hit .208 on the series led by David Hall's .571 (4-for-7) performance leading the team with two home runs. Nick Masonia added a homer and three RBI for the Trojans. South Alabama hit .263 led by Bud Collura's .500 (4-for-8) and two runs scored. Cole Gleason had two RBI.

Texas State Bobcats (3-0, 13-6, 132 RPI)

Texas State went 3-1 this week dropping a midweek home contest to No. 14 Texas Longhorns 3-6 before sweeping UT Arlington at home (10-5, 7-5, 3-1). Texas State hosts No. 17 Rice Owls before travelling to play at the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this weekend.

UT Arlington Mavericks (0-3, 5-14, 247 RPI)

UT Arlington went 0-4 this week losing to the Oklahoma Sooners 2-3 before being swept at Texas State over the weekend (5-10, 5-7, 1-3). UT Arlington stays home this week hosting No. 21 Sam Houston State and Columbia in two midweek games before hosting Arkansas State this weekend.

Texas State Sweeps Mavericks in Lone Star State Showdown

SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas State's pitching was too much for the Mavericks as the Bobcats swept UT Arlington this weekend. Bobcat starters posted a 2.75 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 17 strike outs. Texas State held the Mavericks to a .247 average and 11 runs scored.

Bobcat Lucas Humpal out-dueled the Mavs Zach Thompson on Sunday to complete the sweep. Humpal allowed an earned run over 7.2 innings with four strike outs while Thompson held Texas State scoreless for seven innings when the Bobcats plated three in the eighth, striking out nine. The Mavs starters had a 6.63 ERA with a 1.32 WHIP and 20 strike outs.

Texas State hit .307 and scored 20 runs in the series led by Granger Studdard who hit two home runs and scored five runs total while hitting .583 (7-for-12) and driving in four. Matt Smith and David Paiz also contributed four RBI each. Greg McCall paced the Mavs hitting .416 (5-of-12) with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI. Darien McLemore added a homer and three RBI for the Mavs while Justin Copeland hit a home run.