LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (UALR) – The Trojans' offense put pressure on South Alabama all day, but couldn't come up with the breakthrough hit they needed to suffer a 6-5 loss at Gary Hogan Field.
UALR's (10-10, 0-5) offense was led by Ben Crumpton and collected 14 hits and drew six walks, but were only able to score five runs while leaving 15 runners on base. USA (12-9, 3-1) had its own struggles leaving nine runners on while collecting 13 basehits.
UALR, which jumped out to a 5-0 lead last night, looked to grab another early lead in the second inning.Justin Steelmon led off with an infield single and Joseph Paulino followed with a single to right field.Ryan Scott came up with a walk to load the bases with no outs. USA starter Locke St. John was able to strike out Austin Pfeiffer to get the first out. Jason Prevatt, then, grounded out to the second baseman to bring Steelmon in to score and give the Trojans a1-0 lead.
After Prevatt's groundout the game was delayed for 30 minutes due to a lightning strike in the area. When the game got back underway St. John was able to get out of the jam with another strikeout.
The Jaguars got to UALR starter Ethan Schlechte in the top of the third. Andrew Tindell led off with a double to left and came around to score on a base hit by Adam Ballew to knot the score 1-1.
The Trojans came back and loaded the bases in the bottom of the third with one out but were unable to capitalize when Paulino's hard ground ball was turned into a double play.
USA took the lead in the top of the fourth scoring four runs on Schlechte. The inning started with back-to-back singles before the Schlechte fielded a bunt and got the lead runner at third. Erik Hindman doubled in a run before Tindell then hit into a fielder's choice to shortstop. Instead of taking the out at first Pfeiffer threw home but the throw got away from Prevatt to allow a run to score. USA then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score its third run of the inning and take a 4-1 lead. Ballew then singled to bring Tindell around to score and make it 5-1.
UALR came back and loaded the bases with two outs, but once again were unable to come up with the hit it needed.
Stephen Chandler came in to replace Schlechte to begin the fifth inning. Schlechte finished the day with four innings allowing five runs—three earned—on eight hits with two strikeouts. Chandler allowed a run in the fifth as a leadoff walk came around to score to give the Jaguars a 6-1 lead.
The Trojans started their comeback in the bottom of the fifth scoring when Tanner Rockwell tripled to right center and came in to score on Steelmon's RBI single.
UALR turned to small ball in the sixth inning to pull within two of USA. Hayden Martin was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Crumpton followed with a single and Martin went first-to-third on the play. Crumpton then stole second and Martin stole home when the catcher threw down to second. After stealing third, Crumpton scored on Steelmon's RBI groundout to cut the Jaguars' lead to 6-4.
Chandler got the first batter of the seventh to groundout before the Trojans made another call to the bullpen to bring in Dyllon Brownmiller. The right-hander allowed a hit the first batter he faced then allowed a hit before Sam Thoele came in and replaced him. Thoele intentionally walked the first batter he faced to load the bases after delivering a wild pitch with his second delivery. From there the sophomore was able to work out of the one-out, bases-loaded jam to keep the score 6-4.
Chandler went 2.1 innings allowing one run on two hits while striking out two.
The Trojans went right back to work in the bottom of the eighth. Crumpton led off with his fourth hit of the game before stealing second. The senior then came around to score on a single by Bryson Thionnet to bring the score to 6-5. Thionnet stole second and then Steelmon drew a walk to give UALR runners on first and second. However, once again the Trojans couldn't come up with a breakthrough hit.
In the bottom of the ninth the Trojans again threatened. Pfeiffer legged out an infield single before Drew Merten hit into a fielder's choice. With two outs Crumpton was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second down one, but Thionnet was struck out to end the game.
Thoele pitched 2.2 scoreless innings allowing just two hits to keep the Trojans within striking distance bu the struggles with runners on was too much to overcome.
Crumpton had a career day going 4-for-5 to get his first four-hit game of his career. The senior scored twice and stole three bases. He now has 62 stolen bases in his career and is one back of Miguel Miranda's all-time career stolen base record at UALR.
Rockwell tripled to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Steelmon, who, went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and scored a run, was in the middle of seemingly every UALR scoring threat. Scott posted a multi-hit game with two singles. Thionnet had a hit and an RBI while Prevatt rounded out the RBIs with his first career run driven in.
The Trojans will look to avoid a sweep and break a five-game conference losing streak against South Alabama at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday at Gary Hogan Field.