Arkansas State rallied from a six run deficit in the final two innings to erase a six deficit in a 9-7 come from behind victory over Arkansas-Little Rock Saturday night at Gary Hogan Field.
Sophomore Collin Massanelli tied the school record with three home runs in the game to help lead the charge for ASU. His final blast came in the top of the ninth inning and tied the score at 7-7. ASU added two more runs in the inning to take the lead and senior reliever John Koch pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save of the season and clinch the series victory for the Red Wolves.
“I thought we showed some toughness at the end and it is a credit for our guys to because they kept battling and kept playing hard until this thing unfolded the way it did,” ASU head baseball coach Tommy Raffo said. “We didn’t hang our heads when we got down and we just continued to fight and push until we got ourselves back in the game.”
Massanelli’s three home run game was only the third in A-State baseball history, while the Red Wolves’ rally from six runs down was its largest come from behind victory of the year. ASU also extended its winning streak to 11 straight over UALR and improved its overall record to 13-6 and is now 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play. The Trojans fell to 10-9 on the year and are 0-2 in league play.
ASU trailed 7-1 going into the top of the eighth inning, but plated three runs to cut the deficit to 7-4. Austin Baker led off the inning with a single and Massanelli followed with his second home run of the game with a two-run blast that hit off a light pole in right-center field. The Red Wolves added another run on a ground out from Alex Potts that scored Logan Uxa to pull within three.
In the top of the ninth, Ethan Yeo drew a leadoff walk and Fitzpatrick advanced to second on passed ball after coming in to pinch run for Yeo. Fitzpatrick scored on a two-run home from Baker that pulled ASU within 7-6 and Massanelli followed in the next at-bat with a solo shot to left field that tied the game.
Ryan Emery followed Massnelli’s at-bat with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Following a UALR pitching change, Uxa drew a 1-out walk and junior third basemen Claude Johnson drove in the go ahead run with a double down the right field line. ASU tacked on another run when Uxa scored on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Roberts to give Arkansas State a 9-7 edge heading into the bottom of the ninth.
“It is just fun to see the guys in the dugout smiling when something like that happen,” Raffo said. “It is a neat thing for them and it is a special time for them.”
The Red Wolves scored the first run of the game when Massanelli hit a solo home run to left field to go up 1-0 in the fourth inning.
UALR came back in the bottom half of the inning and scored a run on sacrifice fly from Ben Crumpton that plated Bryson Thionnet to even the score at 1-1 and the broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Blake Johnson led off the inning with solo home run to left field to give the Trojans their first lead of the series and Chris Burk reached on an error. Burk came around to score a double by Myles Parma and later scored when Thionnet hit the second home run of the inning with a shot over the wall in left-center field to push the lead to 5-1 with just one out in the inning.
David Guarno scored the inning’s fifth run on a wild pitch and Sage Gasaway scored the inning’s final run on a fielder’s choice from Crumpton to give UALR a 7-1 advantage after the six innings.
Levi Shordon picked up his first win of the season after pitching the eighth inning for ASU. Sophomore starter Chandler Hawkins went 4.1 innings and gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits, while Tanner Ring pitched 2.2 innings in relief and struck out five. He did not allow a runner to reach base during his appearance.
Massanelli led the Red Wolves at the plate, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs and three home runs. Baker finished the game 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a home run, while Claude Johnson had two hits and an RBI. Roberts and Alex Potts also drove in runs on the night.
ASU will try for the series sweep against UALR Sunday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field. First-pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.