Sky-Lar Culver drove a bases-clearing three-run double in the ninth inning, lifting the Arkansas State baseball team to an exciting 9-6 victory over Troy in the team’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament opener at Riverwalk Stadium.
Culver drove in four of nine runs to lead the Red Wolves (19-29) with both of his hits being for extra bases. The Mountain Home native also powered a solo homer in the third. A-State used three pitchers in the win over the Trojans (27-25), with Kollin Stone picking up the victory after tossing 2.1 innings with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.
Carter Holt drew the starting nod, hurling 4.1 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) and striking out two. Jack Jumper then bridged the gap between Holt and Stone with 2.1 innings of work, giving up one run with two strikeouts. A-State did not allow a walk for the first time since Feb. 28, 2020, at Dallas Baptist.
Four Red Wolves registered multiple hits, including a team-high three by Drew Tipton, who also scored two runs to move to within one run of tying Todd Baumgartner for the all-time career runs record at A-State.
A-State struck first in the opening frame when Tipton scored on an RBI double by Tyler Duncan. The launching pad that is Riverwalk Stadium then facilitated three homers in the second, including back-to-back shots by Jared Toler and Garrett Olson. Liam Hicks later powered a two-run shot to right to give the Red Wolves an early 5-0 lead after two.
Culver belted his solo homer in the third before the Trojans plated a pair in the bottom of the inning with a single by Drew Frederic and sac fly by Rigsby Mosley to make it 6-2. Troy tacked on a run in the fifth and sixth innings to pull to within one through seven innings.
An RBI single by Caleb Bartolero scored Logan Cerny to tie it up at six entering the ninth. A single by Ben Klutts then a double by Duncan put runners in scoring position with only one out, followed by an intentional walk to Jaylon Deshazier to set up the double-play possibility. Culver then found the pitch he liked, delivering a 1-1 pitch by Marquez Oates into the right-center field gap, unloading the bases and plating the go-ahead runs.
Stone then worked around a leadoff double, stranding the runner at third with a pair of strikeouts and a popout to Hicks in foul territory to hold off the Trojans and earn the victory.
Oates took the loss for Troy, pitching the ninth. The Trojans tallied 18 hits, with three each off the bat of Bartolero, Dalton Sinquefield and Jesse Hall.
A-State will next take on West No. 2 seed UT Arlington in the second game of pool play at 3 p.m. CT Thursday, needing a win to advance to the tournament semifinal on Saturday. The showdown versus the Mavericks will be broadcast on ESPN+ while the radio broadcast can be heard on 95.3 The Ticket.
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