LITTLE ROCK – Senior Chance Cleveland threw a complete-game shutout while allowing just three hits in UALR’s (19-22, 6-13 SBC) 5-0 win over Western Kentucky (22-20, 11-8 SBC) Friday night at Gary Hogan field. Cleveland issued just one walk and struck out ten WKU hitters on the night, including five of the final six batters he faced.
The win improved Cleveland to 5-6 on the season, while the complete game marked the fourth time this season the Pine Bluff-native has gone the distance. The right-hander has now allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts. Cleveland faced just 31 total batters, as the only free base he issued was a walk to WKU’s Ryan Huck in the top of the first inning.
The UALR bats supplied plenty of offense for Cleveland, putting up five runs on 11 hits. Junior John Clark and senior Chris Burk supplied three hits apiece to lead UALR. Juniors Ben Crumpton and Austin Pfeiffer added two hits each. Clark added a pair of RBI and Pfeiffer accounted for two runs scored.
Tanner Perkins was dealt the loss for WKU to fall to 3-3 on the year. Perkins was tagged for five runs and surrendered all 11 UALR hits in 6.1 innings of work. Brennan Pearson and Alex Mercer combined to work a perfect final 1.2 innings.
UALR’s offense wasted no time getting started, as the Trojans grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on four hits in the bottom of the first. Crumpton led off the game with a single to right center, and Pfeiffer bunted his way on to give the Trojans runners at first and second. Perkins was able to get senior Blake Johnson out on strikes for the first out of the inning, but back-to-back RBI singles by Clark and Burk plated the first two runs of the game for UALR. Junior Kaleb Jobe drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. But Perkins worked himself out of trouble, striking out sophomore Sam Vogel and senior Myles Parma to escape the base-loaded jam with no further damage.
The Trojans went up 3-0 on an RBI single by Clark in the bottom of the fifth that plated Pfeiffer, who reached earlier in the inning on an infield single.
WKU generated its only real scoring threat in the top of the sixth. Trevor Lowe reached on an error by Crumpton, then moved to third on a two-out double by Ryan Huck. With runners at first and third, Cleveland was able to get Flaherty to hit a dribbler back to the mound, which he fielded cleanly and threw to first for the final out of the inning.
UALR tacked on its final two runs in the bottom of the seventh. The Trojans’ rally started with a single up the middle by Clark. Burk then blooped a single to shallow right field to give UALR runners at first and second. Jobe’s single through the left side of the infield allowed Clark to come home from second and plate the Trojans’ fourth run of the game. A sac fly off the bat of Parma later in the inning brought home Burk to give UALR a 5-0 lead.
UALR and Western Kentucky will play game two of their series at Gary Hogan Field on Saturday at 4 p.m. Junior left-hander Travis McDonald is scheduled to get the start for the Trojans, while right-hander Andrew Edwards will be on the hill for WKU.