Red Wolves Baseball Team Wins to Stay Alive; UALR Falls in SBC Tourney

Courtesy Arkansas State University and UALR Athletic Departments

LAFAYETTE, La. — The Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball team fought elimination and received an outstanding performance for junior pitcher Bradley Wallace on the mound in a 10-4 victory over Western Kentucky Thursday after morning at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The UALR Trojans were eliminated in a loss to Florida International University 4-3.

The Red Wolves offense bounced back after a slow start in the opening game to score 10 runs on 12 hits. Logan Uxa led the charge with three hits for ASU, while Derek Birginske drove in two runs and Alex Potts also had two hits.

Lightning suspended play in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Championship Thursday evening, altering the schedule for the remaining games on Thursday and the Friday schedule for the tournament.

The Red Wolves’ game is now set to begin at 4 p.m. and the loser of the Cajuns and Jaguars matchup will play Florida International Friday night at 7:30.

On the mound, Wallace was masterful in his first career start in the postseason. The junior faced one over the minimum through his first five innings and gave up just four runs on five hits. He also struck out seven and walked just two on the afternoon.

The Red Wolves took an early lead after scoring a run on a wild play in the second inning. With runners on first and second, Potts hit a back toward Edwards on the mound that deflected off his leg and into right field. Uxa scored from second on the play after he slid under the tag at home plate to give the Red Wolves an early 1-0 advantage.

The Red Wolves took advantage of two more WKU errors in the fourth inning to score four runs and build a five run advantage. Uxa was involved in another play at the plate when Potts attempted a sacrifice bunt up the third base line, but the throw from Hilltoppers’ third baseman sailed wide of first base and went up the first base line, which allowed Uxa to score all the way from first base.

The wild inning continued with Dustin Jones in the next at-bat when he singled to left, but the ball got by Adam Lavelle and rolled all the way to wall. Jones, who was hustling all the way, scored on the play after sliding underneath the tag at home plate and gave the Red Wolves a 5-0 lead.

Jones was credited with one RBI on the play after Birginske scored from second on the single and Potts and Jones each came around to score on the error.

Arkansas State added two more in the fifth on a two-run RBI triple by Derek Birginske. It was the first triple and RBIs of the freshman’s career, who has started both of the postseason in left field for the Red Wolves.

The runs continued to add for A-State in the sixth inning. Western Kentucky cut into the lead Red Wolves’ with a run in the top half of the inning, but ASU scored three in the bottom half of the frame to take a 10-1 lead.

Kevin Fitzpatrick delivered the inning’s first run with an RBI single that plated Potts. Ryan Roberts followed two batters with an RBI single that scored Fitzpatrick from second and Uxa drove in his first run of the tournament with an RBI single of his own. Roberts also tried to score on the hit, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

The Hilltoppers got to Wallace in the seventh inning after he gave up a run and then loaded the bases with just one out. John Koch came in of relief and gave up a 2-run single but shut down the Hilltoppers from that point on to give ASU the victory.

UALR Trojans Fall to FIU

The UALR Trojans (28-28) pulled within a run on a solo homer by Blake Johnson in the top of the seventh, but FIU (26-31) held on for the 4-3 lead to eliminate the Trojans from the Sun Belt Tournament on Thursday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field. The Trojans threatened to even the score in the top of the ninth, but sophomore Sage Gasaway was thrown out at the plate on what would have been the tying run.

The Panthers’ Edwin Rios accounted for all four RBI thanks to a pair of two-run homers in the first and sixth innings. The UALR pitching staff limited FIU to just five hits on the day, with Rios being the only Panther to finish with multiple hits.

Senior Chris Burk finished with a perfect 3-for-3 effort in his final college game. SeniorJohn Clark collected two hits in the contest, while Johnson was 1-for-4 with a solo homer. Senior Myles Parma was hitless but drew three walks in the contest.

Jason Morozowski earned the win for FIU to improve to 2-0 on the season. Morozowski came on for starter Tyler Alexander with two outs on the board in the top of the sixth and gave up one run on two hits in 0.2 innings.

Senior Blake Huffman was dealt the loss to fall to 6-5 on the year. Huffman surrendered four runs on five hits while registering four strikeouts in 5.0 innings. Senior Bubba Coopercame on in relief of Huffman and worked 2.1 hitless innings.

FIU built an early lead on a two-run homer by Rios in the bottom of the first inning. After Zach Sweety managed an infield single to give the Panthers a base runner, Rios’ low liner over the right field fence gave FIU a quick 2-0 advantage.

UALR picked up its first hit of the game when Burk slapped a single to right center in the top of the second. Later in the inning, Parma and sophomore Sam Vogel both drew walks to load the bases with two outs. However, Alexander was able to get senior David Guarno to hit a sharp liner to third for the final out of the inning.

The Trojans scratched across a run on a hit and two walks in the top of the fourth. Burk picked up his second hit of the day with a one-out liner past the FIU shortstop, and Parma drew his second walk of the game to put runners on first and second. Another walk to juniorBryson Thionnet loaded the bases for Vogel, whose grounder to short allowed Burk to score the Trojans’ first run of the game. The Trojans were unable to do any further damage, as Guarno struck out with runners at the corners to end the inning.

Consecutive walks to Clark and Burk gave UALR runners at first and second to begin the sixth. Alexander was able to get Parma out on strikes, but issued his third walk of the inning to Thionnet to load the bases. Alexander struck out Vogel for the second out of the inning, but issued his ninth walk of the game to bring home the game-tying run. At this point, Morozowski came on to pitch for the Panthers and was able to get junior Ben Crumpton to hit a deep fly ball to center for the final out of the frame.

FIU provided an immediate answer in the bottom half of the sixth. After Aramis Garcia walked to lead off the inning, Rios went opposite field for his second two-run homer of the game.

Johnson’s solo homer pulled UALR within a run in the top of the seventh. After Clark pulled a one-out single through the left side, Burk was hit by a pitch and Parma drew a walk to load the bases. Chris Elander came on to pitch for the Panthers, and was able to get Thionnet to ground into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play to get out of the inning with no further damage.

UALR began the ninth with a base runner, as Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Clark then ripped a single to left center, but the relay throw from left was good enough to get Johnson before he could slide into third for the first out of the inning. Clark moved to second on the throw, while Gasaway came on as a pinch runner. A single by Burk looked as if it could plate the tying run, but Gasaway was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by Sweety from left field. Parma flied out to left for the final out of the contest.

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