LITTLE ROCK - Freshman starting pitcher Chad Bradford recorded his first career win, junior Ben Crumpton logged three hits, and the UALR baseball team (9-3) squeaked by the Southeast Missouri Redhawks (7-6) by a score of 3-2 on Tuesday night from Gary Hogan field.
Bradford came into Tuesday's contest with two losses on the season and a forgetful ERA, but the rookie from Germantown, Tenn. worked 5.2 masterful innings off the mound for the Trojans. Bradford blanked the Redhawks through the first five innings, while not allowing a hit until the third frame. Command benefitted the right-hander as Bradford struck out three Redhawks and did not allow a free pass all evening.
With Bradford keeping the Southeast Missouri lineup in check, the UALR offense spotted the freshman some early breathing room. Crumpton lined a lead-off double down the left field line in the bottom of the first inning and then advanced to third base on a failed pick-off attempt. Junior Austin Pfeiffer was the beneficiary of the Redhawks' miscue as he picked up an easy RBI with a ground-out to the shortstop, quickly giving UALR a 1-0 lead. Immediately after, senior Blake Johnson parked his third home run of the season over the left field wall, putting UALR ahead 2-0 three batters into the lineup.
In the bottom of the second inning, a one-out double by senior David Guarno turned into another run for the Trojans, courtesy of an additional Southeast Missouri error. Starting Redhawks pitcher Hank Williams Jr. sailed an attempted pick-off of Guarno into centerfield, allowing Guarno to score all the way from second base. Southeast Missouri committed five errors on the evening, three of which coming on throwing errors by the pitchers. Despite the unprecedented number of blunders from the Redhawks, UALR was only able to push across three runs as the offense fell dormant the rest of the game.
Both teams exchanged three consecutive scoreless innings until Southeast Missouri finally broke the drought in the top of the sixth inning. With runners on first and third and two outs, junior Chase Rousseau came in to pitch in relief of Bradford. Rousseau struck out the only batter he faced, but not before throwing a pitch that passed Johnson and allowed a run to score. After six complete frames, UALR led 3-1.
Freshman Jesse Harbin worked the seventh and eighth innings, keeping Southeast Missouri off the scoreboard, while striking out two and only allowing one hit.
In the top of the ninth inning, UALR turned the ball over to junior Dillon Moritz in hopes of picking up his fifth save of the young season. Moritz was greeted with back-to-back singles though, as the Redhawks refused to go down without a fight. Moritz was able to get the next batter to fly out, but two wild pitches moved the runners up and allowed one to score, bringing the score to 3-2. With the tying run 90 feet away, Moritz stuck out the next batter for the second out of the inning.
UALR then decided to call in senior Tyler Buckley to record the final out. The move proved to be the right one, as the right-hander delivered the game-ending strikeout, leaving the tying run stranded at third base.
With the win, the Trojans have won seven of their last eight contests, including four straight. Guarno ended his night going 2-for-3 at the plate with one run scored, while Pfeiffer went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
UALR returns to action tomorrow night for the second game against Southeast Missouri. First pitch from Gary Hogan Field is scheduled for 3 p.m.