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A-State completes series sweep to conclude 2023 campaign


Red Wolves outslug South Alabama to cap baseball season

From Arkansas State University

JONESBORO – 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 3for-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 runscoring single by Will Turner. Brayden Caskey’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning moved the Scarlet and Black ahead 54, driving in French.

Four more runs scored in the bottom of the third for the Red Wolves on back-toback 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 onerun 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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