MOBILE, Ala. – UALR plated three runs over its final two sets of at-bats, but its comeback bid came up short as the Trojans (10-12, 0-4 SBC) fell by a 4-3 final to South Alabama (19-4, 3-1 SBC) at Stanky Field on Friday. Junior Kaleb Jobe hit a solo homer to lead off the ninth that pulled the Trojans within a run, but South Alabama’s Dylan Stamey was able to get the next three Trojans out on strikes to pick up his first save of the year.
Senior Chance Cleveland (2-4) was handed the loss for the Trojans after giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits in 8.0 innings of work. Cleveland struck out five batters on the night. Brandon Boyle (1-1) picked up the win for the Jaguars after giving up no runs on three hits in 7.0 innings. Boyle struck out seven batters against just one walk in the contest.
Junior Austin Pfeiffer led UALR on offense, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Four other Trojans chipped in with a hit apiece.
South Alabama struck first in the bottom of the second. Jordan Patterson led off the inning with a single through the right side, then moved to second on a wild pitch by Cleveland. A ground ball to second off the bat of Dustin Dalken allowed Patterson to move to third before he eventually crossed home plate on an RBI single by Whitt Dorsey to left centerfield. Dorsey then moved to third on another Cleveland wild pitch and a single by Robby Campbell. The next batter, Graham Odom, reached on a throwing error by Jobe that allowed Campbell to slide into home and make it a 2-0 game.
After both teams went scoreless over their next two sets of at-bats, UALR led off the top of the fifth with a double to left by sophomore Sage Gasaway. Boyle was able to get the next batter, junior Ben Crumpton, out on strikes, but a ground out by Pfeiffer moved Gasaway to third with two outs. However, Boyle was able to escape the inning without further damage, striking out senior Blake Johnson to end the inning and keep UALR off the scoreboard.
The Jaguars tacked on two more runs to build a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Bud Collura drew a walk to start the frame, then moved to second when Patterson singled to right field. A wild pitch by Cleveland advanced both runners, giving the Jags runners at second and third with no outs. After a ground out by Nolan Earley, Dalken singled up the middle to score Patterson and Collura and give South Alabama a 4-0 lead.
UALR began its comeback effort in the top of the eighth, as Crumpton drew a walk to lead off the inning for the Trojans. The next batter, Pfeiffer, ripped a double to left center that advanced Crumpton to third. Patterson, who came on to pitch for the Jaguars to start the eighth, was able to get Johnson out on strikes, but an RBI groundout by Burk plated Crumpton for UALR’s first run of the game. With two outs, senior Myles Parma singled down the left field line to score Pfeiffer and make it a 4-2 game. The Jags then brought on Dylan Stamey to pitch, who got senior David Guarno out on strikes to end the inning.
After South Alabama left runners on first and third to end the bottom of the eighth, Jobe led off the top of the ninth with a solo home run to pull the Trojans within one, 4-3. However, Stamey was able to strike out the next three UALR hitters to pick up the save and secure game one for the Jaguars.
UALR and South Alabama will play game two of their series at 1 p.m. on Saturday due to expected thunderstorms in the Mobile area. Senior right-hander Blake Huffman will be on the mound for the Trojans, while left-hander Jacob Noble is set to start for the Jaguars.