Arkansas State knocks top-seeded Troy out of Sun Belt tournament
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Arkansas State knocked off the top-seeded Troy 3-2 in an elimination game Friday after in the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field on the campus of Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Red Wolves (28-30), who were playing the Trojans (40-18) for the second time in three days, took the lead after the sixth inning and John Koch pitched the final 3 2/3 innings in relief to earn the victory.
Koch (4-6) retired seven consecutive batters after giving up seventh inning after coming on in relief of Cody Woodhouse in the sixth inning. He got the first two outs to start the ninth inning, but then gave up a hit to Logan Pierce and then a single to Danny Collins to move the tying run into scoring position. Koch came back strong however, and got Trae Santos to fly out to centerfield to end the game and give ASU its second straight win in the tournament.
A-State advances to play Florida Atlantic Saturday morning in another elimination game for the Red Wolves. A win would mean that A-State would play the Owls again for the right to go to the championship game on Sunday.
A-State brought seven batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning and scored two runs to take the lead for the first time in the game. ASU loaded the bases with no outs in the inning and tied the game when Derek Birginske grounded into a double play that allowed Stuart Levy to score from third.
Levy led off the inning with a double and Ryan Roberts singled back up the middle. Logan Uxa was then hit by a pitch, which brought Birginske to the plate with no one out in the inning. Roberts advanced to third on the double play ball and Collin Massanelli drove him with an opposite field single to give ASU a 3-2 lead after six innings.
Koch helped maintain the lead in the top of the seventh inning after giving up a walk and a hit to put runners on the corners with just one out in the inning. He got out of the inning when Josh McDorman hit a ball right back to the mound and Koch turned and threw to second to start a double play to get the Red Wolves out of the inning.
Troy struck first with two runs in the top of the third inning after Birginske misplayed a ball in left field off the bat of Danny Collins. Birginske charged the ball but just missed a shoe string catch and the balled got by him and rolled to the wall which allowed Logan Pierce to score all the way from first and Collins ended up at third with a triple.
Trae Santos brought home Collins with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead after the top of the third inning.
Birginske atoned for the error in the bottom of the fourth inning after he delivered a 2-out double to cut the Trojans’ lead in half. Uxa reached on an infield single when a ball deflected off the Troy pitcher and beat out the throw to first. Birginske then hit a ball deep into the gap in left centerfield that allowed Uxa to score easily from first base to give ASU its first run of the game.
Woodhouse gave A-State 5 1/3 strong innings but ran into trouble after hitting a batter and then surrendering a double to put runners on second and third with just one out. Senior John Koch came on in relief and worked out of the jam by getting Jake Harrell to strikeout and then induced a ground out from Tyler Vaughan to get out of the inning.
ASU has now won two games in the SBC Tournament in each of the last four seasons. The Red Wolves also played the Trojans five times this season and every game was decided by one run.