Mark West: Red Wolves Baseball Preview – WKU, UCA Bears


red wolves baseball wku weekend

The Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball team heads into the weekend after a 2-2 week, winning 2-of-3 at home against Texas State while dropping a midweek match-up at SEMO. The Red Wolves are 16-13 overall with an RPI of 54, which happens to be tops in the state followed by UCA 85, Arkansas 118, UALR 168 and UAPB 254.

The bigger picture has A-State sitting solo in second place in the Sun Belt, one game behind the No. 4 Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns who must travel to Jonesboro for a three game set in May. The Red Wolves are a game ahead of Texas State.

A-State has a two game lead on Western Kentucky (16-14, 4-5 Sun Belt, 50 RPI) and looks to extend in a three game set this weekend. WKU sends a trio of seniors to start on the bump this weekend.

Friday night matches WKU’s righty Justin Hageman (2-1, 2.41 ERA, 18 BB, 26 K, .267 OBA) against the Red Wolves baseball sophomore right-hander David Owen (4-0, 3-22 ERA, 14 BB, 35 K, .239 OBA). Owen has been sold since moving into the Friday night role and Hageman is the staff ace at WKU.

Saturday sees a battle of lefties as WKU’s Austin Clay (3-2, 5.21 ERA, 15 BB, 27 K, .325 OBA) squares off with A-State junior Chandler Hawkins (2-3, 4.84 ERA, 8 BB, 32 K, .295 OBA). Figure on seeing a lot of breaking pitches in this game.

Sunday matches a pair of senior right-handed pitchers as the Hilltoppers send Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.42 ERA, 17 BB, 30 K, .242 OBA) to the bump against Arkansas State’s Bradley Wallace (2-3, 5.17 ERA, 13 BB, 25 K, .298 OBA) who is coming off his best start of the season throwing seven scoreless innings last Sunday.

The teams are very different offensively as the Red Wolves have a balanced attack, incorporating speed (39 steals on 47 attempts), clutch hitting (five hitters in double-digits for RBI), and playing base-to-base small ball with 16 sac flies and 20 sac hits for a total of 36 sacrifices on the year. A-State gets men on base and moves them home.

Austin Baker has been a key cog leading the team in most offensive categories including on base percentage (.409), slugging percentage (.536), steals (9-for-9), runs (28), walks (20), and home runs (5) while being second in hits (32) and RBI (24) and third in hitting at .291.

A-State will turn to Colton Kibler, Cody Woodhouse and Tyler Zuber as bridge pitchers to get the ball to Morgan Croft to close the game. WKU uses Brennan Pearson, Brandon Allen and Sam Higgs in middle innings to get the game to one of the conference’s premier closers in Ian Thompson.

A-State plays a midweek game against the Central Arkansas Bears (16-10, 5-4 Southland, 85 RPI) that hopefully will avoid the same ugly display the Bears had in their midweek game against UALR this week.

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You can read more of Mark West at College Baseball Central where he covers Arkansas State, the Sun Belt Conference and the Big 12 Conference at


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