JONESBORO, Ark. – A five-run seventh inning and dominant pitching from Arkansas State’s Daniel Wright proved to be insurmountable Friday night as the Red Wolves defeated WKU 6-0 in game one of the three-game series.
The Hilltoppers struggled to figure out the Red Wolves’ ace Wright, who pitched a complete-game shutout, struck out 11 and only allowed five WKU hits. Wright extended his Sun Belt Conference leading strikeout count to 59 while improving to 3-2 on the year. With the shutout win, Arkansas State (18-13, 5-5) became the first Sun Belt team to blank WKU (16-14, 7-3) since FAU won 6-0 in Boca Raton, Fla. on May 5, 2012.
Left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins returned to the mound for WKU after two weeks rest and responded with his best outing of the season, working a season-high 6.1 innings while striking out five batters. Perkins (2-1) scattered eight hits and surrendered a season-low one earned run.
Arkansas State struck its first blow in the third inning with Collin Massanelli scoring from second base after WKU mishandled a short chopper. Perkins would get out of the bases-loaded jam with just one run scored in the frame.
Another WKU fielding miscue that could have been a double play resulted in the Red Wolves’ second run of game in the seventh inning. Arkansas State would go on to deliver the knockout in the seventh, tacking on five runs in the frame for the 6-0 advantage. Only one of the Red Wolves’ six runs was earned.
The Hilltoppers looked to be on their way to drawing first blood as Scott Wilcox and Regan Flaherty stood in scoring position in the first inning, but neither Blake Crabtree nor Trevor Lowe could plate their teammates. WKU would go on to scatter four hits throughout the rest of the game, getting just three runners in scoring position through nine innings.
Flaherty was the lone Hilltopper to generate much offensively, as he recorded his 10th multi-hit game of the season with a 2-of-4 performance at the plate. Flaherty’s 10 multi-hit games rank second on the team behind Scott Wilcox (12), as he’s now tallied at least two hits in three of his last six games.
WKU aims to rebound tomorrow as they duel Arkansas State at 4:00 p.m. (CT). Right-handed pitcher Andrew Edwards (2-1 3.82 ERA) will make his seventh start of the season for the Hilltoppers, fresh off his complete-game shutout of Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday.