BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (2/18/22) – Trailing by one with the tying run on base, the Arkansas State baseball team could not push it across, dropping a 9-8 decision at Samford in a back-and-forth season opener Friday at Joe Lee Griffin Field.
A-State (0-1) got a pair of hits each from Jacob Hager and rookie Wil French, who drew the start at shortstop and led things off in his collegiate debut. French recorded a double, while Hager scored twice. Jared Toler and Brandon Hager both drove in a pair of runs.
Carter Holt tossed 3 2/3 innings in the start, striking out five but allowing seven runs before giving way to the Red Wolves’ bullpen, which kept the potent Bulldogs (1-0) at bay the rest of the way. Will Nash, Max Charlton, Brandon Anderson and Phillip Bryant all saw at least an inning, with Anderson taking the loss. A-State’s pitching staff punched out 12 batters – the most in a season opener since recording 12 strikeouts at Stephen F. Austin to open the 2019 season.
Samford took advantage of a five-run fourth and got a strong 2 1/3 innings of relief from Brody Westbrooks, who earned the win with four strikeouts despite allowing three runs. Carson Hobbs pitched the ninth, working around a one-out walk to earn the save.
Leadoff man Garrett Howe led all players with a 3-for-4 day with two runs scored. Andrew Bennett scored three runs and tallied a pair of extra-base hits. Colton Ledbetter reached base four times and scored twice.
A-State added to its lead in the third on an RBI single by Toler to score Jacob Hager, making it 3-0. French was gunned out at the plate by Maurice Hampton Jr. trying to score from third on the play.
Samford then scored a pair of runs in the third on a two-run homer by Ledbetter, but Holt worked out of the inning without further damage. The Bulldogs added five more in the fourth to take a 7-3 lead. Back-to-back one-out homers by Towns King and Bennett started the inning before Hampton scored on a wild pitch after walking, then stealing second and advancing to third on an error. Two more runs later scored on a pair of bases-loaded walks.
Samford tacked on one more in the fifth on an RBI single by Hampton, scoring Bennett from second, but A-State responded in the sixth on a towering homer to left by Cason Tollett to make it 8-4.
NO. DOUBT. ??@casontollett11 goes DEEEEEEEEP.
— Arkansas State Red Wolves Baseball (@AStateBaseball) February 19, 2022
The Red Wolves then exploded for four runs in the seventh, all unearned on a trio of Samford errors, to tie up the contest at 8-all. Samford responded in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Howe to score Bennett, who reached on an error to begin the frame.
After Bryant mowed through the Bulldogs’ order in the eighth with a pair of strikeouts, Tollett reached via walk and was pinch-ran for by Eli Davis, but the Red Wolves could not plate the tying run, as Hobbs closed out the contest with two punchouts.
A-State looks to even up the series on Saturday, taking the field at 2 p.m. CT. The contest can be viewed live on ESPN+, while the radio broadcast can be heard on Newstalk 101.3 KBTM-AM 1230.
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).
Original article source: https://astateredwolves.com/news/2022/2/18/baseball-red-wolves-drop-tight-season-opener-at-samford-9-8.aspx | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council