LITTLE ROCK – The UALR baseball team (21-22, 8-13 SBC) completed a three-game sweep of Western Kentucky (22-22, 11-10 SBC) with two wins in Sunday’s doubleheader at Gary Hogan Field. The Trojans took game one by a 10-6 final before winning 16-6 in seven innings in game two.
The UALR offense produced 26 runs on 31 hits in the two games, including a season-high 16 runs on 19 hits in the game two victory.
UALR picked up a 10-6 win in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader thanks to 12 hits that led to three three-run innings for the Trojans. Seniors John Clark and Chris Burk led UALR with three hits apiece in the contest.
Burk added three RBI and a pair of runs scored, while junior Bryson Thionnet hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the second and finished the day with four RBI.
Freshman Jesse Harbin picked up the win after allowing two runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings of relief work. Senior Bubba Cooper came on for Harbin to start the seventh and picked up his first save of the season after allowing two runs (none earned) on two hits. Andrew Edwards allowed six runs on eight hits before being pulled in the fifth to earn the loss for WKU.
The Trojans ran into some trouble to start the game, as junior Travis McDonald surrendered a hit and issued three walks before an out was recorded in the top of the first. The left-hander was pulled following a bases-loaded walk to Devin Kelly that brought home Trevor Lowe for the first run of the game. Harbin replaced McDonald and was able to get the first batter he faced to ground into a 4-6-3 double play that plated another Hilltopper run to make it 2-0, but put two crucial outs on the board for the Trojans. Harbin induced another groundball for the third out of the inning.
UALR took the lead with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the second. Burk led off the inning with a single and senior Myles Parma drew a walk to give the Trojans a pair of base runners. A sac bunt by junior Kaleb Jobe advanced Burke and Parma, but a three-run homer by Thionnet cleared the bases and gave UALR a 3-0 lead after two innings of play.
WKU retook the lead with a pair of run on a two-RBI double by Trever Lowe in the top of the fourth. Ryan Messex singled to lead off the frame and Steve Hodgins added a two-out single later in the frame to set up Lowe, who pulled a 1-0 pitch down the left field line that plated both runners to give WKU a 4-3 advantage.
The Hilltoppers walked in a pair of runs to give UALR back the lead in the bottom of the fifth. The Trojans added a third run on a sacrifice fly by Thionnet that plated Burk to build a 6-4 lead after five.
UALR added another run on two hits in the bottom of the sixth. Pfeiffer hit a stand-up double down the left field line, then moved to third on a wild pitch. Clark then went opposite field for a single that plated Pfeiffer to put UALR up 7-4.
Western Kentucky pulled within a run thanks to two hits and a UALR error in the top of the seventh. Ryan Huck placed a single through the left side and Kelly drew a walk with two outs on the board. A single by Regan Flaherty to left field that would have moved each runner up just one base was misplayed in left field, allowing both runners to score and pulling WKU within a run, 7-6.
Leading by a run, UALR loaded the bases on a couple of walks and a single by Crumpton in the bottom of the eighth. Taylor Haydel came on to pitch for the Hilltoppers and promptly retired the first two batters he faced on strikes. But Burk ripped a bases-clearing double to left center, scoring all three runs to put UALR up 10-6.
UALR won game two by a 16-6 final, plating seven runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to build a 10-run lead and walk away with the series sweep. Senior Blake Huffman earned the win after giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 6.0 innings.
All nine UALR starters finished the game with at least one hit, while eight finished with at least two. Crumpton led the way with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate to go along with four RBI and two runs scored. Senior Blake Johnson also collected three hits for the Trojans. Sophomore Sam Vogel had two hits, three RBI and three runs scored, and Thionnet finished game two with two hits, four RBI and two runs scored.
Crumpton’s solo homer in the bottom of the first put the Trojans up 1-0. UALR tacked on four more runs in its second set of at-bats thanks to a two-RBI double by Vogel and a two-run homer by Thionnet. Guarno singled to lead off the frame before Parma drew a walk. Vogel’s double brought home both runners, and Thionnet’s blast over the left field fence made it 5-0 in UALR’s favor.
WKU got on the board with three runs in the top of the fourth. Messex reached base on an error to start the inning. Huffman then issued back-to-back walks to Adam Lavelle and Blake Crabtree to load the bases. A deep fly ball to center off the bat of Steve Hodgins plated WKU’s first run of the game, while a two-run double by Flaherty pulled the Hilltoppers within two, 5-3.
An RBI single by Lavelle pulled WKU within a run in the top of the fifth. After Messex hit a two-out triple, Lavelle followed with a single to right to make it a 5-4 game. UALR would answer with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. An RBI single by Vogel plated the Trojans’ first run of the frame, and Crumpton was hit by a pitch later in the inning with the bases loaded to put UALR up 7-4.
The Trojans blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth, scoring seven runs on seven hits to take a ten-run lead. WKU added a pair of runs on two hits and a UALR error in the top of the seventh to make it 14-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
UALR added two runs on a two-out rally in the bottom half of the seventh. After Burk and Guarno were retired to start the frame, Parma singled up the middle, while Vogel and Thionnet both drew walks to load the bases. A balk was called on WKU’s Jackson Sowell to bring in the first run of the inning, and Crumpton ended the game with a double to right-center that scored Vogel to bring the mercy rule into effect.
UALR returns to action with a midweek contest against Stephen F. Austin at Gary Hogan Field on Tuesday at 6 p.m.