Red Wolves Face Big Series

While Tuesday night’s 17-3 loss to Ole Miss hurt there is a bigger picture for the Arkansas State Red Wolves. And a reason for that debacle. And that begins with Thursday.

Facing an Ole Miss team that is one of the hottest teams in the SEC and coming off a sweep of rival Mississippi State, the Red Wolves, who had a four-game winning streak, were forced to use a pair of inexperienced pitchers.

The rest of the pitching staff is being saved for the Sun Belt series with UALR that begins on the home diamond on Thursday.

“It is championship game one on Thursday,’’ said Coach Tommy Raffo. “Seems like we have been in elimination games the last 3 or 4 games. Every game kinda builds on the next game. Obviously it could keep going after Thursday or if could end Thursday. It is kinda like we did against Texas State. We have got to play for kinda no tomorrow.

“Right now Friday and Saturday don’t mean anything. It is all about Thursday.”

The series begins on Thursday night at 6:30 and Friday’s game is 6 p.m. The series is scheduled to wrap on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Left-handed sophomore Colin Nord and freshmen right-hander Bo Ritter took one for the team against the Rebels, who came into the game thinking a victory would assure them of an NCAA berth.

“We knew this was not a good matchup for us,’’ said Raffo. “We were trying to compete with a combination of maybe 10 or 11 innings thrown on the year against a team that is probably one of the hottest teams in the SEC right now. We just knew it wasn’t a good match and we had to go with it and just bite the bullet a little bit.

“We just pitched so many guys last weekend against Texas State. IF you have seen the effort that our guys went through just too kinda keep up in some games and come back and throw multiple times on the weekend. We could not afford to throw any of those guys at all.

“Those young men who are on the pitching staff who threw today actually helped us, believe or not, get ready for this weekend.”

Coming off the weekend sweep of Texas State, the Red Wolves are still sitting in tenth, two spots out of a tournament berth, but they have narrowed the margin some in recent weeks, going 5-1 in their last two league series.

Winning the series over UALR would move the Red Wolves into ninth but to get the eighth spot they will likely have to sweep the series and get a little help. UL-Monroe and Texas State have 12 victories each. If the Red Wolves ended in a tie they would only have the tie-breaker against Texas State. ULM has rival UL-Lafayette at home and Texas State plays hosts to Texas-Arlington.

UALR (15-31) comes in having lost 12 of 13 games but has won two of the last three against the Red Wolves. The Trojans are one game ahead of A-State in the standings.

“We have to do what we did against Texas State,’’ said Raffo. “We play for kinda no tomorrow. Friday and Saturday don’t mean anything right now and they are in the same boat. We will probably throw David (Owen) on Thursday. Thursday is the deal.”