“You don’t see it much, and we’re certainly very excited for Ryan because it is so rare,” said ASU head coach Keith Kessinger of Hudgins’ accomplishment. “More importantly, it kind of opened the game up for us.”
Hudgins delivered a double in the third inning, a triple in the fifth, a single in the seventh, and a two-run home run in the eighth to complete the cycle, driving in three runs in the process. His two-run shot in the eighth extended the ASU lead to 6-1.
Hudgins joins Adam Roberson, who hit for the cycle against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2004, and Shane Shewmake, who accomplished the feat against Memphis State in 1992, as the only Indians hit for the cycle.
Center fielder Aaron Ferguson added a 3-for-4 night at the plate and made a diving catch in center field to prevent a run in the third, and Indian pitcher Jett Jones threw 5.2 scoreless innings on the night. Jones (1-2) struck out six Skyhawks, against five hits and a walk to earn the win.
“Jett did exactly what we needed him to do, which was to get us deep enough that we could use Nick (Lambert) and Tim (Egart) and try to close the game out,” said Kessinger.
After striking out the side to open the game, Jones gave up a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with one out in the second inning, but the Tribe defense helped Jones get out of the jam when it turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Junior catcher Drew Rogers rewarded the defensive effort in the bottom of the frame with a home run over the left center field wall to put the Indians on the board at 1-0, and ASU added another run in the second when Hudgins doubled to score first baseman Brandon Eller from first. Eller got aboard with a leadoff single, and pushed the Indian lead to 2-0 when he crossed the plate.
The Indians went scoreless over the next two innings, but added a run in the sixth to move ahead 3-0. Ferguson led off the inning with an infield single, stole second, and scored on a base hit up the middle from left fielder Tyler Doke.
Tennessee-Martin scored its only run of the game in the seventh when third baseman Douglas Nicodemus singled to lead off the inning for the Skyhawks and eventually scored on a passed ball, but the Indians got the run back in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-1 advantage. Hudgins singled to lead off the bottom of the frame for the Tribe, moved to second on a fielder’s choice from third baseman Guy Brown, and came home on a base hit from second baseman Jordan Kimball.
Hudgins completed the cycle in the eighth when he sent Skyhawk pitcher Todd Wright’s pitch over the left field wall to stretch the ASU lead to 6-1, and Egart struck out the side in the ninth to complete the win.
In addition to the big night from Hudgins and Ferguson, ASU also got two hits from Eller, and one each from Doke, Rogers, and Kimball. Lambert worked 2.1 innings on the mound, giving up one unearned run on one hit and one strikeout, and Eric Walker took the loss for UTM, surrendering two runs on five hits, with two walks and no strikeouts.
The Indians will be back in action Wednesday night when they host Central Arkansas in a 6 p.m. game at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.