Previewing AState at UT-Arlington

Sweeping the UALR Trojans to open the third consecutive season of conference play, the Arkansas State Red Wolves have jumped out to a tie atop the Sun Belt Conference with the No. 7 Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns and the Texas State Bobcats.

The Cajuns out-scored the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks by a combined score of 39-4 in their opening weekend sweep. Meanwhile the Bobcats needed late inning heroics in two of the three wins in their sweep of the UT Arlington Mavericks, who just happen to be the opponent the Red Wolves travel to play this weekend.

The Mavericks have opened their inaugural season in the Sun Belt at 0-3 and are 7-14 overall with an RPI of 220. UT Arlington lost 5-of-6 to open the season before getting a Top 25 win at then No. 16 TCU 10-2, then proceeded to lose 9-of-12 before getting another Top 25 win this midweek at home against No. 19 Sam Houston State 7-6. Currently, the Mavericks are on a two-game winning streak and look to get their first conference win against the Red Wolves this weekend.

Arkansas State is coming off a tough midweek loss at No. 14 Ole Miss 4-3 in which the Red Wolves had and lost a late lead. The Red Wolves are 3-0 in the Sun Belt and 11-9 overall with an RPI of 27 as they head down to Arlington this weekend against a Mavericks team that seems to perform better against better teams. The Mavericks are 2-1 versus the Top 25 and 5-13 against everyone else.

Comparisons

UT Arlington's pitching staff is allowing opponents a .278 average and 5.3 runs a game while Arkansas State is hitting .284 and is scoring 6.1 runs a game. The Mavericks have given up 51 extra-base hits on the year including seven home runs while the Red Wolves have hit 50 extra-base hits with four home runs.

Arkansas State's pitching staff is allowing opponents a .250 average and 3.9 runs a game as UT Arlington is hitting .284 and scoring 5.1 runs a game. The Red Wolves have allowed 37 extra-base hits, six of which are long balls while the Mavericks have hit 53 extra-base hits with seven home runs.

Mavericks Impressions

The Mavericks have an experienced lineup with four seniors and four juniors that are hitting the ball well and doing so with decent power numbers with an isolated slugging percentage (ISO) of .098 averaging 2.5 extra-base hits per game. Greg McCall (Sr., C) is the power bat in the lineup with an ISO of .225 with four doubles and four home runs and a team leading .909 OPS. Matt Shortall (Sr.) is a close second with a .171 ISO while leading the team with 10 extra-base hits with two triples and two home runs. UT Arlington has three starters hitting over .300 led by Peter Cuomo (Sr., SS) at .350, Shortall at .340 and Derek Miller (Jr., CF).

John Michael Twichell (Sr., LF) is the on base guy leading the team with 17 walks and a .453 on base average (OBA). UT Arlington has a .372 OBA and has hit into only four double plays. Speed doesn't seem to be strong point as the Mavs have stolen nine bases on 23 attempts, leading the conference in being caught stealing. Miller and Shortall lead the team with 13 runs scored a piece. UT Arlington has seven sac flies and 15 sac hits on the season.

On the mound the Mavericks have battled inconsistency all season. Their starting pitching has seen the most struggles but do manage to keep the team in the game. Weekend starters have a combined 5.47 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP while allowing 23 extra-base hits two of which were home runs. Five relievers have nine appearances each on the year with TJ Whidby (Jr., RHP) 0.00 ERA, Chad Nack (Jr., RHP) 1.54 ERA and Zach Hobbs (Jr., LHP) 2.61 ERA being the short relievers while Jacob Moreland (So., RHP) 2.08 and Chase Weaver (Sr., LHP) 2.96 being more geared to long relief appearances. Weaver leads all relievers with 24.1 innings pitched and 20 strike outs.

Red Wolves Impressions

Arkansas State's recent five-game winning streak was carried on the back of timely hitting and good pitching. Austin Baker (So., CF) leads the team in several offensive categories but a lot of that was built on his big night at Murray State Racers. Baker leads with 19 runs scored, three triples, three home runs, 11 walks, eight stolen bases and 39 total bases with a .506 slugging percentage and a .893 OPS. Baker has a .220 ISO and is tied for the team lead with Stuart Levy (Jr., C) with each having eight extra-base hits. Levy also has a .138 ISO while leading the team with a .440 OBA and hitting .354.

Matt Burgess (So., 1B) leads the team with 23 RBI while hitting .333 and came up really big this weekend with four RBI which included three two-out RBI hits and a walk-off single in the 14th inning against the UALR Trojans. Lucas Feddersen (Jr., 2B) is hitting .338 with three steals.

The Red Wolves have shown a speed element this season with 30 steals (No. 2 in the Sun Belt) on 34 attempts, two steals ahead of last season's mark at 28. Arkansas State has a .387 OBA which means nearly 40 percent of our plate appearances end with a runner on base. Arkansas State has 11 sac flies and 19 sac hits. The Red Wolves are being very effective at moving runners and playing small ball which has been key to winning.

Arkansas State is pitching well in spite some struggles with starting pitching. The weekend staff has a 4.38 ERA to go along with a 1.43 WHIP while allowing 21 extra-base hits, five being long balls. The Red Wolves pen is led by Colton Kibler (Jr., RHP) with 13 appearances (leads the Sun Belt) posting a 2.25 ERA over 16 innings of work. Kibler has 13 strike outs without walking a batter while holding opponents to a .179 average.

Cody Woodhouse (Sr., RHP) is an innings eater pitching 16.1 innings in eight appearances with a 0.55 ERA and a .179 OBA. Tanner Gaines (Jr., RHP) has six relief appearances and two midweek starts with a 4.26 ERA and had a solid outing at No. 14 Ole Miss this midweek. Tanner Ring (So. RHP) has a 0.00 ERA over five relief appearances with a .158 OBA and Tyler Zuber (Fr., RHP) has a 4.91 ERA over six appearances. Coulton Lee (Fr., LHP) is the one-out specialist with nine appearances for 4.0 innings pitched.

Game 1, Friday 6:30 PM
Arkansas State – David Owen (So., RHP) 3-0, 3.28 ERA, 24.2 IP, 1.14 WHIP, 6 BB, 24 K, .234 OBA

Owen shined in his first Friday night start last week pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out 10, including the final three outs of his night, while earning the win against in-state rival UALR Trojans. Owen averages 8.8 strike outs and 2.2 walks over nine innings pitched with a 4-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Opponents have hit five doubles, two triples and a home run against Owen.

UT Arlington – Brad Vachon (Sr., RHP) 1-4, 4.79 ERA, 35.2 IP, 1.32 WHIP, 10 BB, 28 K, .264 OBA

Vachon is moving into the Friday night role this week. He got a no decision in his last start at the Texas State Bobcats allowing four earned runs over 6.2 innings of work with seven strike outs. Vachon averages 7.1 strike out and 2.5 walks per nine innings pitched with a 2.8-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Opponents have hit nine doubles and a home run against Vachon. Vachon shut down TCU in one of the Mavericks' wins versus Top 25 teams.

Game 2, Saturday 2:00 PM
Arkansas State – Chandler Hawkins (Jr., LHP) 2-2, 4.97 ERA, 25.1 IP, 1.46 WHIP, 8 BB, 22 K, .282 OBA

Hawkins has pitched effectively in all of his starts, especially his last two starts in which he was hurt by the long ball. Hawkins has allowed three home runs over his last two starts for five earned runs. Aside from homers, Hawkins has been the best at not allowing the extra-base hit among Red Wolves starters allowing two doubles, a triple and three home runs. Hawkins averages 7.8 strike outs and 2.8 walks per nine innings pitched with a 2.8-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio.

UT Arlington – Jess Amedee (Jr., RHP) 1-3, 6.67 ERA, 28.1 IP, 1.59 WHIP, 14 BB, 22 K, .301 OBA

Amedee is moving out of the Friday night role for the UT Arlington after a rough outing at Texas State allowing 7 earned runs over 4.2 innings pitched allowing five hits and two walks in a loss. Amedee averages 7.0 strike outs and 4.5 walks per nine inning pitched with a 1.6-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Opponents have hit seven doubles and a home run against Amedee.

Game 3, Sunday 1:00 PM
Arkansas State – Bradley Wallace (Sr., RHP) 1-3, 4.91 ERA, 22.0 IP, 1.73 WHIP, 10 BB, 21 K, .318 OBA

Wallace' recent move to Sunday was preceeded by struggles on the mound. He fare a little better in his last start as he pitched around trouble but was still being hit lasting four innings allowing six hits and a walk with four strike outs and surrendering his first home run on the season. Wallace averages 8.6 strike outs and 4.1 walks per nine inning pitched with a 2.1-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Wallace has allowed five doubles, a triple and a homer to opposing hitters.

UT Arlington – Zach Thompson (Jr., RHP) 1-3, 5.08 ERA, 28.1 IP, 1.66 WHIP, 13 BB, 28 K, .306 OBA

Thompson is coming off his best start of the season at Texas State holding the Bobcats scoreless through seven innings only to take the loss when the Bobcats broke through with three in the eighth. Thompson struck out 9 over 7.2 innings pitched. Thompson averages 8.9 strike outs and 4.1 walks per nine innings pitched while allowing only five doubles on the season.

It appears as though the Red Wolves will face the Mavericks most effective pitcher on Sunday, but the Friday night starter has the ability to shut down even the best offenses in the country when he is on. We may be in line to get some key hits again this weekend as Arkansas State looks to continue their hot conference start.

I will be covering the Red Wolves action for College Baseball Central at http://collegebaseballcentral.com/sun-belt/arkansas-state/

Mark West

College Baseball Central

Twitter: @MarkWestCBC

Email: markwest@collegebaseballcentral.com