JONESBORO, Ark. — A four-run Arkansas State eighth inning erased a two-run WKU lead and sent the Red Wolves to a 6-4 win in game two of a three-game Sun Belt Conference weekend series against the 18th-ranked Hilltoppers. WKU was on top 3-0 after the first and 4-2 after six innings, but the late Arkansas State rally gave the Hilltoppers their first loss since March 17 against Vanderbilt and first road defeat since March 10 at Mississippi State, a span of 10 games. The Hilltoppers are now 22-6 on the season and 7-1 in Sun Belt Conference play. Arkansas State moves to 17-10 overall and 7-4 in the league.
Shane Cameron worked five-and-two-thirds innings in a no-decision, allowing only three hits and two runs. He retired the first 13 batters of the game and had a no-hitter through five innings. In his last three starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. In 18.0 innings of work over those three games, he has struck out 16 and walked just three. Five WKU pitchers followed Cameron but could not hold the lead he left the game with. Craig Stem absorbed his second loss of the season.
Daniel Wright held the Hilltoppers scoreless and to only three hits in three innings of relief to earn the win. He struck out five and did not surrender a walk. John Koch picked up his third save after pitching the ninth.
Jared Andreoli and Jake Wells each had two hits for WKU, extending their hitting streaks to 15 and 14 games, respectively.
The Hilltopper offense provided Cameron three runs of support before the senior right-hander even took the mound for the first time. Matt Payton led off the game with a double and went to third on a groundout to the right side by Andreoli. He scored when Kes Carter grounded out to second and with two outs, Matt Rice singled up the middle. Ryan Huck, making the start at designated hitter, doubled down the right-field line to score Rice and put the Hilltoppers ahead, 3-0, before Arkansas State took their first at-bat.
Cameron dominated the first time-and-a-half through the Red Wolves lineup, as he retired the first 13 hitters he faced into the fifth inning on five flyouts, four groundouts and four strikeouts. Along with the superb statistics in his last three starts, Cameron has also been outstanding the first time through the opponent batting order. He set down the first 11 he faced at VCU, the first seven he faced against ULM and the first 13 this afternoon.
WKU went on top 4-0 in the top of the fifth when Logan Robbins walked and scored on an Andreoli double to left-center field.
Cameron faced five batters in the bottom of the sixth and gave up two runs before being lifted in favor of Tyler Gilliland. Gilliland got a groundout to end the sixth and then worked around the first three Arkansas State batters reaching base in the seventh to keep the Hilltoppers in front, 4-2, heading into the eighth.
Wright retired WKU in order in the top of the eighth, and Arkansas State sent nine men to the plate and broke through for four runs on five hits to take a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish. WKU used four pitchers in the inning, and a couple of Arkansas State's hits did not leave the infield.
Koch entered with a two-run lead in the top of the ninth and put two runners on base before getting two strikeouts and a groundout to end the game and snap WKU's nine-game winning streak and 10-game road winning streak.
Entering this afternoon's game, WKU had won 31-straight games when leading after seven innings, including holding a 16-0 mark this season.
The loss ends a streak of 10-straight weekend victories for WKU as well.
Up Next: WKU and Arkansas State wrap up their three-game series Sunday afternoon at 1:00. After the series finale against the Red Wolves, the Hilltoppers return to Nick Denes Field for five games next week beginning Tuesday against Murray State at 6:00 PM.