AState Heads to Georgia State

Arkansas State has been rolling in Sun Belt play and looks to continue that hot play on the road this weekend against Georgia State. The Red Wolves come into the series at 24-17 overall with a 13-5 conference mark and a 45 RPI while the Panthers are just the opposite, 5-13 in the conference with a 19-23 record.

Arkansas State has won five straight conference games and two of three road conference series winning at UT Arlington and South Alabama 2-1 while losing at WKU 1-2. Georgia State has lost five straight conference games and has dropped two of three conference series at home losing to WKU and UT Arlington 1-2 but defeating Troy 2-1.

Part of the post-season formula for A-State includes the need to win two of three games this weekend. If the Red Wolves win only a game they will be forced to sweep UALR to keep strained at-large hopes alive.

Comparisons

Georgia State's pitching staff is allowing opponents a .302 average and 6.7 runs a game while A-State is hitting .275 and is scoring 6.0 runs a game. The Panthers have given up 140 extra-base hits on the year including 32 home runs while the Red Wolves have hit 96 extra-base hits with 11 home runs.

A-State's pitching staff is allowing opponents a .256 average and 4.6 runs a game as Georgia State is hitting .300 and scoring 6.8 runs a game. The Red Wolves have allowed 84 extra-base hits, 16 of which are long balls while the Panthers have hit 146 extra-base hits with 44 home runs.

Panthers Impressions

Georgia State is an offensive team, near the top of several offensive categories in the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers are hitting .300 as a team with a .464 slugging percentage. Nic Wilson, Chase Raffield and Matt Rose have combined for 30 of the team's 44 home runs with Wilson leading the way with 12.

In 18 Sun Belt games the trio has hit 13 of the 17 Panthers homer with Raffield leading with six. The Panthers are hitting .252 against Sun Belt Conference pitching but tends to hit better at home. Raffield and Wilson are the on base guys. Hitting .356, Raffield has 23 walks and a .458 on base percentage while Wilson is hitting .351 with 29 walks and a .459 on base percentage. Raffield has a .658 slugging percentage while Wilson is at .689.

Chris Triplett, Chad Prain and Raffield supply the speed for the offense with 8, 7 and 6 steals respectively.

Jerry Stuckey is the long inning bullpen guy while Kevin Burgee is the closer and the Panthers tend to rely on the two of them quite often in the late game. Stuckey has 21 appearances with a 3.73 ERA with a .269 OBA and a 1.27 WHIP. Burgee has 18 appearances with a .365 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a .275 OBA. Georgia State also has Andrew Fessler and Tyler McClure who have starting pitching experience available in the pen.

Red Wolves Impressions

The Red Wolves continue to keep the offense producing, even if someone different has to do the job each game. Matt Burgess earned Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honors for his performance at the plate last week.

Burgess leads A-State with a .323 average and 42 RBI. Austin Baker leads with six homers, a .487 slugging percentage and a .411 on base percentage, 31 walks and 10 steals. The Red Wolves are a solid on base percentage team that advances bases well. Travelling to play at a hitters' park may be advantageous to the Red Wolves bats.

Eric Wilcoxson remains consistent as a freshman producer in the Red Wolves lineup hitting .346 with a pair of homers and 14 RBI. Wilcoxson has a .577 slugging percentage and .526 on base percentage with 19 walks in 78 plate appearances which is 24.3 percent of the time. Compare that to Baker's team leading 31 walks over 199 plate appearances (15.5 percent) to get some perspective on the clip Wilcoxson has been on. 

As a team the Red Wolves are on base just over 38 percent of the time and will manufacture runs with stolen bases and sacrifices to keep the offense moving.

The Red Wolves pen has had a rough week, in spite of a winning mark over the period. A-State has a compliment of reliever to come in out of the pen with the goal of getting the game to closer Morgan Croft who has allowed a .239 OBA with a 3.94 EFA on the year while notching seven saves.

Freshman Tyler Zuber has been effective in relief posting a 2.25 ERA over 15 appearances with a .212 OBA which has made for help for the likes of Colton Kibler, Cody Woodhouse and Tanner Gaines.

Game 1, Friday 5:00 PM

A-State – David Owen (So., RHP) 5-2, 3.96 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .251 OBA

Owen hurled his third quality start on the season last week allowing no earned runs over six innings of work against a potent ULM offense. It was a good rebound for Owen who had a rough couple of road starts prior to the game in which he allowed 10 earned runs in 10 inning pitched. Owen averages 8.6 strikeouts and 3.1 walks per nine innings pitched.

Georgia State – Kenny Anderson (Jr., LHP) 3-3, 5.94 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, .320 OBA

Anderson allowed three earned runs over five innings in his last outing at Texas State off of seven hits and four walks. Anderson has wins over Georgia, WKU and Troy on the season. Anderson averages 4.7 strike outs and 3.8 walks per nine innings. Anderson is 2-2 with a 6.25 ERA and a .328 OBA against Sun Belt competition with 19 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Game 2, Saturday 1:00 PM

A-State – Bradley Wallace (Sr., RHP) 3-3, 3.91 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .275 OBA

Wallace continued his solid pitching allowing only an earned run over four innings of work last weekend before leaving the game for strategic reasons. Wallace has four quality starts on the year, including three of his last four outings. Wallace averages 7.4 strike outs and 3.4 walks per nine innings.

Georgia State – Nathan Bates (So., RHP) 1-2, 5.21 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .285 OBA

Bates allowed four earned runs  on seven hits and a walk over 5.2 innings against Texas State, all of his runs came via a sixth inning grand slam that clinched the game. Bates held UALR to a run over 6.1 innings and UTA to two runs in 5.1 innings. Bates averages 7.6 strike outs and 3.3 walks every nine innings. Bates has gotten more effective in Sun Belt action with a 1-1 mark while posting a 3.65 ERA with 20 strikeouts against seven walks with a 1.22 WHIP and a .240 OBA.

Game 3, Sunday 12:00 PM

Arkansas State – TBA

 

Georgia State – Aidan McLaughlin (RJr., RHP) 1-1, 5.14 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .270 OBA

McLauglin threw 5.1 innings of relief against Texas State last Sunday allowing an earned run on two hits and two walks. McLaughlin pitched 2.1 scoreless innings against Ole Miss and is transitioning from the pen for his first start on the season. McLaughlin averages 4.2 strike outs and 1.9 walks every nine innings pitched. McLaughlin has a 4.86 ERA against Sun Belt teams with a .254 OBA with a 1.14 WHIP.

Arkansas State needs to win this very important conference matchup and appears to have the edge as far as pitching is concerned, the question remains as to how much the Red Wolves will be able to limit the powerful and potent Georiga State lineup.

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