Koch breaks record in win over Hilltoppers
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 14:04
John Koch has been nearly untouchable this season, and on Sunday afternoon the junior closer cemented his place in school history, surpassing ASU’s marks for both single-season (8) and career saves (12) as the Red Wolves bested Western Kentucky 6-3.
Koch replaced reliever Brandon Farley, who picked up the win, in the eighth inning and complemented Farley’s two scoreless innings with two of his own, shutting down the Hilltopper’s offense and ensuring a series win for Arkansas State (21-16, 10-5), who lost Saturday’s match 8-3 after claiming Friday’s opener.
“[The win] felt great. Coming in after Brandon Farley had the momentum going, you know, we’ve been scoring runs like it’s our business today. Just getting people on, keep pressuring the other team. The momentum really carried me into the game today,” Koch said.
“I thought about [the record], but to me, it’s not something I’m looking forward to…. I’m looking forward to the win each time. I’m looking forward to shaking the catcher’s hand and having the team come out and congratulate everyone.”
Farley and Koch’s performances were central to a successful day for the bullpen, who combined to allow only one earned run in relief of starter Cory Kyle.
Kyle pitched four innings, giving up three hits and one unearned run.
“That was pleasing. I mean, put the ball in [the bullpen’s] hands and see what we can do. [The relievers] were able to execute, and we were able to make some plays behind them,” said head coach Tommy Raffo, who earned his 100th career win Friday night.
The Red Wolves struck early, gathering two runs in each of the first two innings. Zach George and Logan Uxa each belted in runs in the first.
George then hit a single in the second to score Stuart Levy, and he got into a rundown between first and second that allowed Zach Maggio to score from third.
“I don’t think [George] meant to get into a rundown, but it was a big run,” Raffo said with a hint of a smile.
WKU countered with an RBI ground out from catcher Devin Kelly in the fourth, only to be answered later in the inning by Maggio, who smashed a double into the gap to score Dustin Jones and put the game at 5-1.
Cody Woodhouse replaced Kyle in the top of the fifth and surrendered a double from Casey Dykes that brought in two runs, one of which was unearned from third baseman Alex Potts’ fielding error on a grounder smacked by David Simmons.
Once Bradley Wallace entered the game later in the inning, the Hilltoppers wouldn’t score again.
Arkansas State got another run in the bottom of the eighth, with Michael Faulkner knocking in Levy with a single into center field. Faulkner then stole second and third, giving him 29 bags on the year and tying him with Jerome Miller for the single-season stolen base record Miller set in 1978.
Faulkner will have the opportunity to follow Koch into the record books on Tuesday when ASU travels to Southeast Missouri State for a one-game series before playing a crucial conference series this weekend at Florida International, who are only a half game back of the Red Wolves in the Sun Belt standings. First pitch for Tuesday is slated for 5:00 pm in Cape Girardeau.