JONESBORO -- Arkansas State University junior center fielder Drew Tipton removed his helmet before crossing home plate, then pounded his chest twice.
Tipton's celebration followed a no-doubt, two-run home run to left field -- a pivotal moment in the Red Wolves' 6-4 victory Tuesday against the University of Central Arkansas at Tomlinson Stadium in Jonesboro.
The Red Wolves (21-13) battled a pitching issue early, knowing sophomore starter Carter Holt was on a pitch count while rehabbing an injury.
Tipton's home run alleviated some pressure off of the Red Wolves' pitching staf and ignited a three-run fifth inning, their largest scoring frame in their second victory against UCA (15-18) this season.
Tipton's first home run of the season scored sophomore shortstop Jake Jablonski, who began the inning with a walk.
"That's the hardest ball I've hit in a long time," Tipton said. "I watched that one fly for a while."
Freshman designated hitter Will Huber followed Tipton and reached on an error. A single from junior first baseman Sky-Lar Culver led to senior catcher Justin Felix's RBI single to stretch ASU's lead to 5-1.
In the first inning, Holt allowed a leadoff walk to UCA second baseman Jay Anderson, who then stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout to third.
Three of ASU's first four batters in the bottom of the second reached base with singles. Jablonski drew a bases-loaded walk to forge a 1-1 tie after two innings.
Holt was removed for junior reliever Zech Jarrard after 2⅔ innings. He did not allow a hit in 41 pitches, his longest outing since ASU's 9-6 victory March 5 at UCA. Recovering from an injury, ASU planned to ease Holt -- who returned to throw one inning April 3 -- back into the mix.
Holt walked one, hit another with a pitch and struck out two of the 11 total batters he faced.
Even though the Bears scored against Holt in the opening frame, they did not record a hit against ASU until junior designated hitter Marco Navarro rapped a single in the top of the sixth.
Jarrard held the Bears scoreless through 4⅓ innings, allowing 2 hits and striking out 8.
"We started off in kind of a weird funk," Tipton said. "You can feel it. Then Jarrard got up there and kind of settled us in."
ASU sophomore left fielder Jaylon Deshazier hit a solo home run down the left-field line in the bottom of the sixth for a 6-1.
Red Wolves senior left-hander Payton Lannon loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and two walks in the top of the eighth. ASU Coach Tommy Raffo replaced him with junior right-hander Kollin Stone, who allowed one run to score on an RBI single from UCA junior right fielder Alonso Bibiano but struck out the other three batters he faced in the inning to limit the damage.
Stone loaded the bases in the ninth with two walks and a hit by pitch. While trying to turn a double play, ASU junior second baseman Will Zimmerman threw a relay throw into ASU's dugout, allowing two runs to score. He rebounded to strike out Bibiano to seal the victory.
"We let them back in with free bases." Raffo said. "I think there were six or seven free bases that let them back in the game. But at the same time, we ended up getting the win in the end."
Sports on 04/10/2019
Print Headline: Wolves hold off Bears