JONESBORO, Ark. (5/20/23) – Blake Burris reached base in all six of his plate appearances on Saturday afternoon, helping the Arkansas State baseball team oust South Alabama 18-11 to complete the series sweep.
The Red Wolves finished the season with a 20-31 overall mark, going 9-19 in league play, while the Jaguars ended with 23-31 and 11-19 marks. A-State earned its first series sweep over South Alabama since 2012.
Burris went 4-for-4 with three runs scored, two walks and a stolen base while also driving in a run. As a team, the Scarlet and Black pounded out 13 hits and took advantage of 13 walks. Wil French scored a career-high five times and reached base four times with two hits.
Brandon Hager hit his 15th home run of the season as part of a two-hit day, driving in four runs, giving him 55 on the year – the most since Matt Burgess drove in 58 in 2014. The A-State slugger ended the year on 42-game on-base streak and finished tied for second in single-season round trippers. The homer was the 25th of his career and tied him for third in school history with Murray Watts (2008-10).
South Alabama’s Erick Orbeta led off the contest with a triple and scored when Austin Thrasher reached on an error. After Thrasher advanced to second on a miscue, he scored on a wild pitch to put the Jaguars ahead 2-0 after the top of the first. Orbeta finished the contest a homer shy of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with three runs.
A-State answered with four runs in the bottom of the first when French scored on a passed ball, followed by a three-run blast to center by John Hoskyn – the first of his career – to make it 4-2 after one.
The Jaguars leveled the score with a two-run second, scoring on an RBI double by Orbeta and run-scoring single by Will Turner. Brayden Caskey’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning moved the Scarlet and Black ahead 5-4, driving in French.
Four more runs scored in the bottom of the third for the Red Wolves on back-to-back RBI singles by French and Burris, who both later scored when Caskey reached on an error, putting the score at 9-4 after three.
South Alabama scratched across three runs in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk followed by a two-run single by Joseph Sullivan to pull within two runs, but A-State’s scoring frenzy continued with a two-run frame. Kody Darcy crossed home on an RBI fielder’s choice and then Cail was hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded to drive in French.
The Jaguars made it a one-run affair in the sixth, pushing home three runs on RBI singles by Micah Morgan and Thrasher, as well as a bases-loaded walk to Cole Ketzner. However, Hager widened the gap once more in the bottom of the inning, homering off the top of the batter’s eye to make it 13-10 through six.
Sullivan scored what would be USA’s final run on a fielder’s choice in the seventh before the Red Wolves unloaded for five runs and sent 11 batters to the plate. Nathan VerMaas singled home Darcy and pinch-runner Kyler Carmack, and then a single by Burris plated pinch-runner Allen Grier. Hager followed with two more RBIs on the day, driving in French and Burris to put the score at 18-11.
Max Charlton entered and pitched the final two innings, striking out four and not allowing a run. Bryce Schares (2-1) earned the win in relief, tossing a shutout fourth, while Matthew DeLano (2-1) took the loss after allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits in 1 2/3 innings.
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A-State Completes Series Sweep to Conclude 2023 Campaign. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council