TROY, Ala. — The Arkansas State Red Wolves jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, and Chandler Hawkins tossed a gem to eliminate the Georgia Southern Eagles with a 6-1 win in game 5 of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament May 21 at Riddle-Pace Field.
The leadoff hitter reached in three of the first four innings, and all three hitters came around to score to help the Red Wolves (26-29) jump out to an early lead. Zach George led off the first inning with a double and scored on Austin Baker’s single to center field.
“It is disappointing, and I feel like we didn’t play our best baseball over here. You want to come into this thing playing your best baseball of the year,” GSU coach Rodney Hennon said. “It caught up with us over here. This group of kids has represented our program well on and off the field. I am going to miss our six seniors, and I couldn’t ask any more from those guys.”
Colin Massanelli led off the second inning with a single and scored on Lucas Feddersen’s double down the right field line. George plated two more runs in the frame with a single through the left side of the infield to extend the lead to 4-0.
Jeremy Brown led off the fourth inning with a single to left center and scored on Joe Schrimpf’s single to center field. Schrimpf later scored on Baker’s second of three singles on the day to extend the lead to 6-0.
Hawkins held Georgia Southern hitless through the first three innings and tossed six scoreless frames before allowing a run in the seventh inning. Making his first start against a Sun Belt team, Hawkins (5-7) picked up the win after limiting the Eagles to five hits and struck out 10 over 7 innings.
Tripp Sheppard allowed five runs over three innings and was tagged with the loss. Sheppard (4-3) allowed seven hits and walked one batter.
The Eagles (30-27) picked up their first hit of the day with a two-out double from Chase Griffin in the fourth inning.
Georgia Southern got on the scoreboard in the seventh inning after Ryan Cleveland doubled and Dalton Busby drove him in with a two-out single to center field. Busby was left stranded in scoring position after Hawkins struck out Will Hudgins to end the frame.
Chris Brown worked 2 scoreless frames out of the bullpen for the Eagles and worked around two hits and two walks while striking out a pair of batters.
Louisiana-Lafayette won the SBC tourney crown with a 5-1 in 12 innings over South Alabama.