Red Wolves Take Troy Out in Seven (w/ Video)

It was not a perfect game, but it was a perfect night. What the Arkansas State Red Wolves did Friday night could not have been scripted any better.

"It worked out perfectly for us," said Red Wolves coach Tommy Raffo.

In the 12-0 victory over Troy, the Red Wolves, having to fight their way out of the loser's bracket after the 4-3 12-inning setback against the Trojans in the Sun Belt Conference tournament opener on Wednesday, everything fell into place.

Facing a big day on Saturday – meaning have to win twice against what might have be the hottest team in the league in Texas-Arlington – the prospect of running out of pitching loomed large for the Red Wolves.

Enter junior left-hander Chandler Hawkins, who was facing a team that hits lefties well.

"I was just trying to keep the ball down and in the zone and let the defense make plays," he said.

The seven-inning 3-hit shutout saved the team, getting 2 innings off but he saved the pitching.

"Chandler threw great," said Raffo.

We got off to a very good start and Chandler was outstanding tonight. In the strike zone when he wanted to and out of the strike zone when he wanted to. We had some early outs that got us back in the dugout and got some tempo. I think our offense fed off that. Then we started putting quality at bat after quality at bat and it was pretty fun to see for the team."

Raffo said the Red Wolves had played "back on their heels" for most of the first two games and that seemed to change when senior RHP Bradly Wallace worked four perfect innings from the fifth on in the 4-3 victory over South Alabama. Wallace worked 8 innings and allowed just 2 runs and against saved the staff. Morgan Craft worked the final inning in that victory.

"I think Chandler fed off that," he said.

Offensively, Dustin Jones, who tied the school record for most games played, hit a 2-run home run to give the Red Wolves a 3-0 lead. From there, the key hits kept coming and Troy helped by contributing 4 errors.

So what is left? Texas-Arlington has gone 18-6 since A-State took 2 of 3 in Arlington early in the conference season.

"They might be the hottest team in the conference," said Raffo. "They are really playing well."

Game 1 begins at 12:30 and will be broadcast on the Sun Belt Network (Cox and Comcast). The Red Wolves has used 3 pitchers the last 2 days after using five in the 13 inning game against Troy.

"If you lose game one you spend some pitching," said Raffo. "It takes a very good outing to get back in it. We feel like tomorrow is another elimination day for us. It helps the rest of the staff to get another day off.

"We don't get too far ahead. We take it one pitch, one inning at a time."

UL-Lafayette and Texas State play in the other semifinal. Like ASU, Texas State has to win twice to reach the title game.

ASU is scheduled to play at 12:30. A second meeting with UTA, if needed, is set for 7:30. Both games are set for ESPN3.