MOBILE, AL – Arkansas State rallied for four runs in the seventh, but UT-Arlington responded with two in the eighth and defeated the Red Wolves 8-7 Saturday afternoon at the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship Tournament at Stanky Field on the University of South Alabama campus.
The loss eliminated A-State from the tournament after the team had won back-to-back elimination games on Thursday and Friday. The Red Wolves finished the year with an overall record of 32-27 and are the only team to have won at least two games in the SBC Tournament in each of the last five seasons.
Arkansas State trailed 6-4 after six innings but put together a late-inning rally for the third time in the tournament with four runs in the seventh inning to take 7-6 advantage over the Mavericks, but Matt Shortall’s double to right-centerfield in the bottom of the eighth inning brought in the go-aheads runs and UTA closed it out in the ninth to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
In the seventh, Dustin Jones brought in a run for his third RBI in two days to cut the UTA lead to two runs. After Kaleb Brown flied out to right field and Joe Schrimpf advanced to third, Zach Maggio delivered an RBI single and advanced to second on the throw into the infield to put the tying and go-ahead in scoring position.
Both runners scored on a fielding error by Darien McLemore to give the Red Wolves a 7-6 lead. Austin Baker appeared to have hit an inning-ending groundball to McLemore but the ball went under his glove at second base and both Maggio and Jones scored on the play.
In the eighth, Morgan Croft got a fly out and a strikeout to start the inning but then issued back-to-back walks before Shortall hit what proved to be the go-ahead hit.
A-State jumped out in front with a pair of runs in the first inning on a two-RBI bases loaded single by Stuart Levy. Maggio led off the game with a single, while Baker and Burgess drew back to back walks to setup up Levy’s hit.
The Mavericks scored five runs in the second inning and chased A-State starter Tanner Gaines from the game. Gaines worked an efficient first inning, but gave up a leadoff single in the second and walked a batter to put two runners on. Two runs scored on an RBI double by Eric Tate. Cody Woodhouse entered the game in relief and gave up three more runs to make it a five-run frame.
The Red Wolves got a run back in the fourth when Ty Michellotti scored on a sacrifice fly from Maggio. Michelotti led off the inning with a triple and went 1-for-2 before being lifted for a pinch hitter.
Maggio finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Levy went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Jones also had an RBI and hit on the same day that he became A-State’s all-time leader in career games played with 228.
The Red Wolves finished the year with 30 wins for the third time in the last five years and won 18 games in league play for the second time in the last three years.
A-State will lose five seniors off this year’s team that includes Maggio, Woodhouse, Croft, Jones and Bradley Wallace.