JONESBORO, Ark. (5/5/23) – Arkansas State baseball scored seven runs in the final two innings, but it was not enough to surmount a 12-run deficit in a 19-14 loss to Old Dominion Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field.
The Red Wolves (15-27, 5-15 SBC) surged to an early 7-1 lead, but the Monarchs (29-16, 12-10) scored 18 unanswered runs to reclaim the lead. A-State rallied late with an eighth-inning grand slam by Brandon Hager followed by three runs in the ninth, but could not complete the rally.
Hager drove in five runs and scored twice, going 1-for-3 and homering for the fourth consecutive game – something an A-State hitter has not accomplished since at least before 2005. The grand slam was the first of his career and 12th round tripper of the season, moving him into a tie for eighth most hit in a single season (Brad Burkhead, 2004, and Blake Denischuk, 2003). The Festus, Mo., native now owns 22 career blasts, tying Bobby Pickett (1990-91) for fifth in program history.
Wil French went 2-for-4 with two runs scored while walking twice, giving him 40 walks on the year and tying him for 10th in single-season walks drawn. Blake Burris reached base four times on two hits and a pair of walks, while Nathan VerMaas went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs. Cross Jumper scored twice, as did Allen Grier, who also drove in three runs.
ODU out-hit the Scarlet and Black 19-11, including 13 of those 19 hits for extra bases. Alex Bouche went 4-for-6 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs, while Thomas Wheeler homered and drove in four runs. Hunter Fitz-Gerald doubled twice and homered, scoring three times, with Luke Waters scoring three times on three hits.
The teams combined to use 16 pitchers in the contests, with both sides utilizing eight arms each. Jacob Conover (1-1) took the loss for the Red Wolves, striking out four in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Robert Cook (3-3) earned the win pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings in which he worked around three walks and a hit.
ODU struck first with an RBI double by Bouche, but A-State strung together six timely hits and sent 13 batters to the plate in a seven-run bottom half to lead 7-1.
The first four hitters reached to start the frame, led off by back-to-back singles from French and Burris. After a walk to Hager loaded the bases, Kody Darcy singled home French and Burris to score the go-ahead run. A one-out RBI single by VerMaas drove in Hager before Grier roped a two-out two-run single to plate Darcy and VerMaas. Jumper came around to score on a wild pitch after singling ahead of Grier. The final run of the frame crossed when Hager was hit by pitch with the bases loaded.
Luke Ransom hit a solo shot in the third to pull within five before the Monarchs leveled the score with five across in the third. Bouche doubled home Kenny Levari, and then a sac fly to left by Thomas Wheeler drove in Fitz-Gerald. Bouche and Camden Grimes scored on wild pitches before Kyle Edwards doubled to plate Tyler Wheeler.
The Monarchs added a two-run homer by Bouche in the fourth inning and then scored two more in the sixth on a solo shot by Fitz-Gerald and an RBI single by Ransom. Luke Waters tripled to score Edwards in the seventh, and then touched home on a Fitz-Gerald double.
Fitz-Gerald led off ODU’s two-run sixth inning with a solo homer, later followed by a two-out RBI base hit by Ransom. In the seventh inning, Waters tripled to plate Edwards, who led off with a double and stole third, and then crossed the plate on Fitz-Gerald’s second double of the night.
Old Dominion added six more in the eighth on back-to-back RBI singles by Waters and Levari, followed by a run-scoring double by Fitz-Gerald. After Bouche walked, Thomas Wheeler belted a three-run blast to put the score at 19-7 entering the bottom of the eighth.
A-State opened its half of the eighth with three consecutive walks to load the bases. With one out in the frame, Hager smacked a towering 413-foot shot to left to break the scoring drought and pull the Red Wolves within eight.
Three straight batters reached to start the bottom of the ninth, with Daedrick Cail scoring from third on a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly by Grier plated VerMaas before French doubled to left, scoring Jumper with two outs. However, a strikeout would end the rally attempt, giving the Monarchs the series-opening win.
The Red Wolves look to even the series against the Monarchs on Saturday, with first pitch slated for 3 p.m. on ESPN+. The radio broadcast can be heard on The Ticket Radio Network stations 95.3, 96.9 and 970 AM in Jonesboro, as well as online at 953theticket.com. Sunday’s series finale is slated for 10 a.m.
For the latest on A-State Baseball, follow the team by liking Arkansas State Baseball on Facebook, as well as following the team on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and Instagram (astatebaseball).
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A-State Drops 19-14 Slugfest to ODU Friday. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council