LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UALR) - Trailing 3-2 after four innings of play, Arkansas State (30-21, 17-9 SBC) plated four runs in the top of the fifth to take its first lead of the game before going on to win by an 8-5 final over UALR (26-26, 12-16 SBC) Thursday night at Gary Hogan Field. The Red Wolves put up their eight runs on just six hits, but were helped by 10 issued walks from UALR pitchers.
Jacob Lee earned the win for Arkansas State to improve to 8-1 on the year. Lee gave up three runs on five hits and struck out four in 5.0 innings of work. Junior Chance Cleveland picked up his first home loss of the season to drop his record to 9-4 on the year. Cleveland cruised through three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth before eventually ending his night by surrendering six runs on five hits in
4.2 innings of work.
The UALR bats put up 10 hits on the night and were led by a couple of two-hit performances by senior Greg Garcia and sophomore Ben Crumpton.
Senior Nick Rountree and juniors Blake Johnson and Myles Parma each hit solo home runs for the Trojans.
Lee retired the first four UALR batters of the game in order before giving up a solo shot to Johnson in the bottom of the second. With one out on the board, Johnson belted a 1-2 pitch over the left-centerfield fence for the Trojans' first hit and run of the contest. UALR went up
2-0 on a RBI single by Crumpton in the bottom of the third. Junior John Clark managed a two-out single to keep the Trojans alive, then stole second before coming home on Crumpton's RBI base knock up the middle.
Cleveland cruised through the first three innings, retiring nine of ten ASU batters and allowing just one hit - an infield single off the bat of Collin Massanelli in the second at-bat of the game. The right-hander ran into trouble in the fourth, issuing a walk to Massanelli to start the frame. The next batter Cleveland faced, Zach George, pushed a single through the right side that appeared as if it would advance Massanelli to third. But Parma, provided the Trojans with a spectacular defensive play, fielding George's single cleanly and making a perfect throw to third to nail Massanelli for the first out of the inning. But Cleveland issued two more walks to load the bases for Anthony Hecht, who delivered with a two-out single through the left side to make it a 2-2 game.
The score wouldn't stay tied for long, as Rountree opened the bottom half of the frame by blasting the first pitch he saw from Lee over the left field fence. The solo shot was Rountree's 11th homer of the year and gave the Trojans a 3-2 advantage heading into the fifth.
The Red Wolves would return the favor and then some in the top half of the fifth, however, scoring four runs on two hits while getting some help from the UALR pitching staff, which combined to issue five free bases and a wild pitch in the frame.
Cleveland struck out the first batter of the inning, but issued a walk to Faulkner and a gave up double to George to give the Red Wolves runners at second and third. A wild pitch by allowed Faulkner to slide into home and even the score at 3-all, while an RBI base knock to right by Logan Uxa plated George to give ASU its first lead of the contest. Cleveland was pulled after issuing a walk to Hecht with the bases loaded to give ASU a 5-3 lead. His replacement, junior Bubba Cooper, walked the first batter he face to bring in the fourth ASU run of the inning and give the Red Wolves a three-run cushion before getting Dustin Jones to fly out for the final out of the frame.
After both teams went scoreless in the sixth, ASU tacked on two runs in the top half of the seventh, thanks in large part to two walks, a passed ball and a wild pitch to take an 8-3 lead. After issuing the second walk of the inning to put to two men aboard, sophomore Andrew Hohn was pulled in favor of freshman Cameron Allen. A passed ball then moved the baserunners to second and third, while a wild pitch by Allen allowed Uxa to score the first run of the inning. An RBI single up the middle by Stuart Levy plated the second ASU run of the frame to give the Red Wolves an 8-4 lead.
The Trojans tried to get something going in the bottom half of the inning, as a homer by Parma to start the inning was followed with a pair of singles by Garcia and senior Cameron Bentley. But UALR was unable to do anymore damage to the Red Wolves' lead, as Bradley Wallace was able to get Crumpton to fly out to center with runners on first and third to end the inning.
With reliever Brandon Farley on to pitch for the Red Wolves, UALR quickly put two men aboard on a single by senior Sean Bignall and a drawn walk by Rountree to start the bottom of the eighth. Farley was able to get Johnson out on strikes for the first out of the inning, but another walk to Parma loaded the bases for the Trojans with just one out. John Koch came on to pitch for Farley and immediately issued a walk to junior Chris Burk to bring in the Trojans' fifth run of the game. But ASU would escape with no further damage, as Koch was able to get the next batter, Garcia, to ground into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Koch then came back on in the ninth and retired the side in order to shut the door on the Trojans and give ASU the 8-5 victory in game one.
UALR and Arkansas State will play game two of their series on Friday at Gary Hogan Field at 6 p.m. Junior Blake Huffman will get the start for the Trojans and right-hander Daniel Wright is scheduled to start for ASU.
(Copyright 2012 UALR Athletics)