JONESBORO — Seth McWilliams wasn't expecting the call to come that quickly. But when it came, he was ready.
JONESBORO — Seth McWilliams wasn’t expecting the call to come that quickly. But when it came, he was ready.
McWilliams came out of the bullpen in the first inning to give Arkansas State some starter-quality relief innings and the Red Wolves rallied for a 4-2 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday night at Tomlinson Stadium.
ASU right-hander Chris Kerwood endured a shaky start, giving up a pair of runs on a pair of hits and walks before McWilliams relieved and got the Red Wolves out of the jam. It was smooth sailing for Arkansas State, which won its fourth straight, the rest of the way.
“I was expecting to come in, in the fifth or sixth inning, throw one inning, and be done,” McWilliams said. “I got the call at the beginning, and he left me out there, so I just did what I had to do.”
McWilliams (3-0), a junior right-hander, made his ninth appearance of the year, throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings while lowering his season ERA to 1.21. He allowed two singles, walked none and struck out three in an impressive impromptu outing.
ASU coach Tommy Raffo said Kerwood never looked comfortable, so he went to McWilliams.
“His tempo wasn’t very good,” Raffo said of Kerwood. “Just his setting the tone of the game was kind of slow. I just had to make a move.”
McWilliams entered with Arkansas State already trailing 2-0 and with two runners on base. He got UAPB’s Cody Demara to ground out to end the inning and appeared to grow stronger the longer he stayed in.
McWilliams sat down the last seven batters he faced, striking out two in the fourth inning and another in the fifth.
“He was great,” Raffo said. “He upped the tempo a little bit more, and things got going a little bit more. He kind of held it down for us to kind of catch up and catch our breath.”
Arkansas State (15-10) managed just six hits total but turned them into four runs.
The Red Wolves tied the score with a pair of runs in the third, after UAPB starter Redmond Floyd issued walks to ASU’s Ryan Emery and Stuart Levy. Dustin Jones singled to drive in Emery, and Collin Massanelli doubled home Levy to make it 2-2.
Arkansas State gave McWilliams the lead in the fourth with some fundamental baseball.
Emery singled to lead off the inning, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Milhouse, then stole third. Levy struck out but UAPB catcher Eddie Williams misplayed the pitch for a passed ball that allowed Emery to score to put ASU up 3-2.
The Red Wolves added a run in the eighth when Logan Uxa singled, stole second and scored on an error to make it 4-2.
The four runs were the least by ASU in the last four games, but the lack of offense didn’t seem to bother Raffo.
“You face different types and styles of pitching,” Raffo said. “You face different things throughout the course — in six days we’ve played five games. So, obviously, you see different types of things. To get through it and go (4-1) in these five games, offensively it’s pretty good.”
For McWilliams, it was his longest outing of the year. He threw 56 pitches, including 44 for strikes, and appeared completely comfortable in the long stint of relief.
The only trouble McWilliams ran into was in the third when UAPB’s Solomon Williams and Jacob Whitney singled. But he managed to work out of the situation unscathed, getting Demara to ground out to end the threat.
“I felt really good,” McWilliams said. “I felt good throwing strikes, keeping it low. I was running really well, so I just let them hit it.”
While McWilliams cooled Arkansas-Pine Bluff off early, ASU’s Cory Kyle finished off the win strong.
Kyle earned his first save of the season, throwing the final four innings in relief of McWilliams. He gave up back-to-back singles in the sixth when he entered, then sat down 12 straight to end it.
Kyle allowed two hits, walked none and struck out six.
“It was good to see Cory out there to throw,” Raffo said. “We wanted to give him some innings. It was important for that to happen and we’re pleased with his outing.”
Arkansas State will play its next five games on the road, beginning with a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at Troy that begins on Friday night.