|Updated: 3/15 10:09 pm
||Published: 3/15 10:07 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Aided by a triple play and a two-run seventh inning the Arkansas State baseball team defeated Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 for its 10th straight victory over the Trojans Friday night at Gary Hogan Field.
ASU improved its overall record to 12-6 and moved to 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play. UALR fell to 10-8 on the year and 0-1 in league play.
Collin Massanelli went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, which tied a career high for the sophomore. Dustin Jones went 2-for-4 on the night, while Alex Potts went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
A-State starting pitcher Daniel Wright pitched five innings gave up three runs on three hits and struck out five, while senior Seth McWilliams earned the win after pitching two innings of relief and not giving a run or a hit. Senior John Koch earned his first save of the year after pitching the final two innings in relief of McWilliams.
ASU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after UALR starting pitcher needed 40-plus pitches to get through the inning. UALR plated a run in the fourth inning when John Clark drove in Austin Pfeiffer to cut the ASU lead to 3-1 and came back to tie the game in the sixth inning to score two runs with no outs to chase Wright from the game.
“We took advantage of some early mistakes on their part and we took advantage of it and we got a big inning in the first with three runs,” ASU head baseball coach Tommy Raffo said. “Daniel was able to create a very good tempo in our dugout and really keep the momentum on our side through the first four or five innings.”
McWilliams came in relief and got out of the inning when Bryson Thionnet tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but instead popped the attempt up in front of McWilliams, which ASU turned into a triple play.
The senior right-hander let the bunt attempt fall in front of him and quickly threw over to third base to get the force out. A-State third basemen Claude Johnson then threw to second base to get the force at that base after Blake Johnson did not run on the play. ASU second basemen Alex Potts then threw to first base for the final out after Thionnet never touched first because it was occupied by Clark.
“We don’t see triple plays very often and Seth made a very heads up play,” Raffo said. “It kind of shifted momentum, even though the game was tied it really gave us some energy going into the top of the inning.”
The Red Wolves carried momentum from the the triple play into the top of the seventh inning and scored two runs to take the lead back from the Trojans. Potts led off the inning with a single and Dustin Jones followed with a single to left side. After a sacrifice bunt from Austin Baker, Massanelli drove home a run with a single and Ryan Emery followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Jones for the second run of the inning.
The Red Wolves tacked on another run in the top of the ninth inning when Massanelli drove in his third run of the game with a double off the center field wall that scored Potts.
ASU jumped out in the front in the top of the first hitting thanks to timely hitting and two UALR miscues. Austin Baker led off the game with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Collin Massanelli drove in Baker with a single to right to give A-State a 1-0 lead after just two batters.
Ryan Emery later walked in the inning and Claude Johnson advanced the runners to second and third with a ground out to second. Massanelli and Emery scored on the next at-bat when Chance Cleveland threw a wild pitcher that allowed Massanelli to score and Emery scored on the play when the UALR catcher committed a throwing error to give ASU a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
The teams for the second of the series on Saturday with A-State throwing left-handed sophomore Chandler Hawkins and UALR countering with right-handed senior Blake Huffman. The game is set to begin at 4 p.m.