Red Wolves upend Jaguars 7-2 during series opener

Red Wolves snap 3-game losing streak

Delta Digital News-Service

May 19, 2023

By Jacob Wicinski | Sports Reporter

JONESBORO, Ark. – The Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball team downed the South Alabama Jaguars 7-2 during the series opener at Tomlinson Stadium on Kell Field in Jonesboro, Ark. on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

After back-to-back batters hit-by-pitch and a successful bunt loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning, South Alabama Pitcher Leif Moore (46) would walk consecutive batters. Arkansas State would go into the second inning up 2-0.

The Jaguars would answer with a run of their own, as Micah Morgan (8) singled to right field driving home shortstop JG Bell (9), making it a 2-1 ballgame. 

In the bottom of the second, Moore would hit another batter and give up a single, as he was taken out. The Red Wolves would extend their lead to 3-1 after center fielder Blake Burris (9) grounded into a double play, driving home a run in the process. 

The Jaguars would add a run though in the top of the fourth inning as third baseman Hunter Donaldson (4) would drive home Bell, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Red Wolves would extend their lead by three runs, with a walk, single, and fielder’s choice, all with the bases loaded, each driving home a run. Arkansas State would enter the sixth with a 6-2 lead.

Red Wolves Head Coach Tommy Raffo

After giving up a single and a walk in the top of the sixth inning, Red Wolves starting pitcher Hunter Draper (18) was removed. He would exit with 5.2 innings, two runs allowed, and seven hits given up on 99 pitches.

The Red Wolves would get yet another run in the bottom of the seventh, with right fielder Brayden Caskey’s (15) single forcing two errors on the same play. Third baseman Daedrick Cail (3) would score on the play, extending Arkansas State’s lead to 7-2.

Red Wolves relief pitcher Arlon Butts (16) tossed 3.1 scoreless innings, giving Arkansas State a 7-2 win over South Alabama. The win would snap a three-game losing streak for the Red Wolves, while the Jaguars would extend their losing streak to eight games. 

On his team’s win, head coach Tommy Raffo applauded his team’s cleanliness.

“Anytime you get a Friday night win at home in the Sun Belt, it’s a big deal,” Raffo stated. “I’m proud of our guys. I thought we played pretty clean baseball, we had a great quality start from Hunter Draper and Arlon Butts followed it up right after that.”

“I’m proud of our guys. I thought we played pretty clean baseball,“…

– Tommy Raffo, Red Wolves Head Coach

In terms of how his team performed behind him, Hunter Draper stated that they made some huge plays that helped him get through his 5.2 innings.

Red Wolves Pitcher Hunter Draper (18)

“I was able to throw the ball in the zone and made [my teammates] stay ready in the field,” Draper stated. “They definitely made some good plays that saved me.”

When asked about where he felt Draper performed best, Head Coach Tommy Raffo stated that there was one area that particularly stood out.

“The Strike Zone. We were able to get some early outs in some at-bats that helped him,” Raffo said. “His pitch count later in the game got a little elevated, but he just competes, has a big heart, and we love him on the mound.”

On Arlon Butts’ scoreless relief effort, Raffo would praise his effort and celebrate his attitude in terms of finishing games.

“All year long, he’s been our guy out of the bullpen, he’s our first guy up. We want him to have the ball to win a game,” Raffo said. “It’s fun to see him feel good about finishing a game.”

With many of his team’s runs coming from a Jaguars mistake, Raffo expressed how important quality at-bats are to his team.

“Quality at-bats are a big deal for us. We went deep in counts and we were able to win some of those,” Raffo stated. “Our guys just played good team ball.”

The Red Wolves will face off against the South Alabama Jaguars for the second game of this three-game series today at 3 p.m. 

Jacob Wicinski is a 2021 graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s in communication and is currently seeking a masters of science in mass communication with a specialization in journalism at Arkansas State University.

Note: Feature photo by Jacob Wicinski.

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