Photo Courtesy: ASU Athletics
JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) - Stuart Levy's one-out pinch hit in the bottom of the eighth inning helped propel the Arkansas State baseball team to a 5-3 victory over Western Kentucky Sunday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.
Levy broke a 3-3 tie with a double down the right field line that scored Logan Uxa from second base after Uxa had reached earlier in the inning with a bloop single in left field. Alex Potts moved Levy to third with an infield single and the A-State sophomore catcher came around to score on a wild pitch to give the Red Wolves a 4-3 advantage. Dustin Jones provided an insurance run with a single up the middle that scored Potts to make it a two-run advantage.
ASU (19-14, 6-6 SBC) took the series from the Hilltoppers (17-15, 8-4) 2-1 after earning a victory on Friday night. It was the Sun Belt Conference series loss for Western Kentucky, which came into the series tied for first place in league play. It was also the second conference series win for the Red Wolves of the year, after sweeping Arkansas-Little Rock earlier this season.
"This was a very good series win for us," ASU head coach Tommy Raffo said. "We had some things go our way in the series and we had some really good pitching and timely hits that allowed to take advantage of some opportunities."
Bradley Wallace turned in a magnificent performance on the mound but did not factor in the decision. The junior right-hander went 8-plus innings, struck out a career-high 12, and allowed just three runs on four hits. After allowing a leadoff single to start the game, he retired the next 18 batters in a row and struck out at least one in every inning but the eighth.
He ran into trouble in the top of the seventh after he issued a leadoff single and then an RBI double to Regan Flaherty to cut the lead to 2-1. Flaherty later scored on a wild pitch to even the score at 2-2.
Wallace came back out to pitch the top of the eighth inning, but gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Messex and was replaced by John Koch, who gave up a run when Messex scored on a wild pitch later in the inning to give the Hilltoppers their first lead of the game.
"Bradley gave us a quality start and we felt like we could just keep going with him," Raffo said. "Credit them they took advantage of some mistakes in the later innings, but we got some runs back later in the inning"
After the big eighth inning from ASU at the plate, Koch pitched around a leadoff single in the top of the ninth and got the next three batters out to earn his third victory of the season.
The Red Wolves took their first lead of the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Claude Johnson started the one-out rally after being hit by a pitch and Ryan Roberts extended his hitting streak to 13 straight with a single to right field. Collin Massanelli drove home both runs with a ground-rule double down the right field line one batter later to give ASU the early lead.
All but two A-State players recorded a hit on the afternoon, while Massanelli finished with two RBIs. Levy and Jones also finished with an RBI on the afternoon.
The ASU baseball, which is in the midst of an eight-game home stand, will take on Central Arkansas Wednesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Tomlinson Stadium.