By: Rob Nelson
Arkansas State won its Sun Belt Conference series against Texas State, taking two out of three from the Bobcats.
The weekend opened with a crisp 6-1 victory and a stirring six-run comeback from the Red Wolves, putting themselves in position to make the Sun Belt Tournament. A-State dropped the Sunday finale, 12-4, but the series victory has the team in position to make another appearance in the SBC tourney.
In Friday night’s opener, A-State plated six runners on nine hits, two coming from first baseman Matt Burgess, who put the Red Wolves on the board with an RBI-double in the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Texas State responded in the top of the fifth with a fly ball down the right field line, tying the game at 1-1.
Burgess added another hit in the sixth, sparking a one-out rally which put the team ahead 2-1. Cody Jackson (2-3) held the Bobcats to their one run in his six innings, and Coulton Lee preserved the lead in three innings as the Red Wolves won 6-1.
A-State trailed 6-0 early after a big TSU fourth. Jake Bakamus answered in the sixth with a three-run dinger that cut the deficit in half. The Red Wolves tied it in the seventh courtesy of RBI hits from Joe Schrimpf and Austin Baker, and took the lead with three runs in the eighth.
Nine unanswered runs locked in the 9-6 victory, securing the series win. Tyler Zuber (5-3) earned the win, allowing two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings to go along with five strikeouts.
Riding a four game win streak, the Red Wolves looked to complete the sweep and build their cushion as the last team into the Sun Belt tournament. The Bobcats struck first, bringing home two runners on an RBI single in the second. Jake Bakamus, again smacked one over the wall to make it 2-1. After a scoreless fourth, A-State rallied with two down in the fifth, as Ty White hit a clutch single into right field to score two and give the Red Wolves a 3-2 lead.
The wheels fell off in the sixth inning, as four pitchers took the mound, allowing a total of four runs to give the Bobcats a 6-3 lead. Bryan Ayers pitched three innings, allowing four runs before being relieved by Bradley Welsh in the ninth. Welsh allowed two runs on three hits before closing out the inning, as Texas State avoided the sweep with a 12-3 win. Coulton Lee (5-6) picked up the loss, despite facing only one batter.
The loss dropped the team to 11-15 in Sun Belt play, still one game ahead of ninth place Louisiana-Monroe. Their magic number is two, with three conference games left on the schedule, coming next weekend at Little Rock.