LITTLE ROCK - Behind a 2-for-4, four-RBI performance from juniorBryson Thionnet, the UALR baseball team (2-1) took its first series win of the 2013 season with a 6-5 win over the Evansville Purple Aces (1-2) on Sunday afternoon.
Thionnet was the offensive catalyst for UALR, helping the Trojans erase a five-run deficit and giving them their second one-run win of the series.
"I'll give it to our guys for hanging in there and doing the things they needed to do to find a way," UALR head coach Scott Norwood said. "Last year, I'll just use the conference, we lost eight one-run games. To come out [in 2013] and play three of them right in a row tests the character of this team. I think today we found out we have the character to handle those games."
That character was indeed put to the test in the early going after Evansville scored three runs in the first four innings. The Purple Aces added to that lead in the top of the fifth with an RBI singles by Jonathan Ramon and John Day. After five complete innings, Evansville held a commanding 5-0 lead.
UALR starting pitcher Ethan Schlechte lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing three runs and five hits in his season debut. His counterpart, Evansville's Kyle Lloyd, silenced the Trojan's offense in the early going, striking out 10 batters and scattering three hits through five complete innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Evansville elected to pull Lloyd and bring in junior relief pitcher Ryan Billo. The Trojans greeted Billo with a double from junior Ben Crumpton, immediately followed by an RBI single from senior Myles Parma, giving UALR its first run of the afternoon. With two outs and two runners on base, Thionnet parked the first pitch he saw from Billo for a three-run home run over the left field fence, narrowing Evansville's lead to 5-4 and putting momentum back in the Trojan dugout.
"This team is just full of fight up and down the lineup," Thionnet said. "We faced a really good pitcher today and [he] obviously showed that. We just dug deep and found a way to do it."
UALR senior relief pitcher Bubba Cooper worked a scoreless sixth and seventh inning, keeping the Trojans within striking distance.
In the bottom of the eight, it would be Thionnet who would answer the bell again for the Trojans. With two outs and senior Blake Johnson on second base, Thionnet stroked a triple off the right centerfield fence, scoring Johnson and tying the game at five. The next at bat, junior Austin Pfeiffer struck out, but the pitch got away from Evansville's catcher, Chris Pearson, allowing Pfeiffer to reach base safely and giving Thionnet enough time to race home for the go-ahead run.
UALR then turned to junior Dillon Moritz, who was coming off a save in Saturday's contest. Moritz closed the door on Evansville in the ninth inning, sealing the come-from-behind win for UALR. Moritz worked two scoreless innings, allowed only two hits, and picked up his first win of the season.
"I'm not too nervous in these kinds of situations," Moritz said. "I'm just glad I get the ball in the last couple of innings."
All nine Trojan hits came from the first six batters in the lineup, including two-hit performances from Crumpton and senior John Clark.
UALR will return to action when they host Louisiana Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 19. First pitch from Gary Hogan Field is scheduled for 3 p.m.