JONESBORO, Ark. – UALR (28-26, 13-17) earned the series win and locked up the No. 7 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament with an 8-1 victory over Arkansas State (26-29, 12-18 SBC) on Saturday at Tomlinson Field. The Trojans will now have wait and see who they will face at the conference tournament, which begins Wednesday in Lafayette, La., as numerous seeds are still to be determined by tonight’s outcomes.
UALR never trailed on Saturday, jumping out a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before adding its second run in the fifth inning. The Trojans’ offense ended on a high note by plating three runs each in the top of the eighth and ninth innings. ASU’s only run of the contest came in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Trojans got a stellar pitching performance from starter Ethan Schlechte, who worked 8.0 innings while giving up one run on seven hits. The win improves the right-hander to 5-4 on the season. Sophomore Cameron Allen came on to start the ninth and retired the final three ASU batters in-order.
Arkansas State’s Cody Woodhouse (0-2) was dealt the loss after giving up one run on four hits in 3.0 innings of work.
The UALR offense pounded out 13 hits on the day. Senior John Clark led the Trojans with a 3-for-5 effort to go along with two RBI and a run scored. Juniors Austin Pfeiffer and Bryson Thionnet and senior Chris Burk all finished the game with two hits. Thionnet and Pfeiffer scored two runs each.
UALR jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Pfeiffer got things started with a one-out single, then moved to second on a groundball out by senior Blake Johnson. A single by Clark to left field was misplayed by ASU’s Kevin Fitzpatrick, allowing Pfeiffer to round third and cruise into home for the first run of the game.
Junior Ben Crumpton walked to lead off the fifth before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pfeiffer. Johnson drew the inning’s second walk to put two men on base, and Clark’s single through the middle of the infield allowed Crumpton to score and give UALR a 2-0 lead. Another issued walk to Burk loaded the bases for the Trojans, but Milhouse was able to get senior Myles Parma to pop up for the third out of the inning and keep the UALR lead at two.
Schlechte cruised through five innings, surrendering just three hits and retiring 10 straight over a span that lasted from the third to the sixth inning. The right-hander ran into some trouble in the sixth, as Fitzpatrick singled, Ryan Emery reached on an error and Logan Uxa walked to load the bases with just one out. However, Schlechte was able to get Claude Johnson to ground into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play to get out of the frame unscathed.
UALR broke the game open with three runs in the top of the eighth. Thionnet led off the inning with a double to deep left field, then advanced to third on a fly ball by sophomore Sam Vogel. An RBI single by senior David Guarno scored Thionnet to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead. A groundout by Crumpton allowed Guarno to move to second base. The next batter, Pfeiffer, ripped a single to left field that plated Guarno for the inning’s second run. Pfeiffer went on to steal second and third, and scored on a throwing error by the ASU catcher to make it a 5-0 game.
The Red Wolves scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the eighth, as a leadoff double by Dustin Jones was followed with an RBI single by Collin Massanelli. Fitzpatrick reached on a fielder’s choice, and Emery singled through the left side to give ASU two base runners with one out. Schlechte was able to get Uxa to hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. With runners at first and third, ASU attempted a double steal with Fitzpatrick and Uxa. UALR’s Johnson threw down to second, but the ball was intercepted by Burk and fired back to Johnson, who applied the tag on Fitzpatrick for the final out of the eighth.
The Trojans added three more runs in the top of the ninth. After Clark led off the inning with a double, Burk singled to give UALR runners at first and third. A groundout by Parma allowed Clark to score and push the Trojans’ lead to five, 6-1. Thionnet drew a walk to put men on first and second, and a single through the left side by Vogel allowed Burk to score and make it 7-1. Thionnet came home on a throwing error later in the inning to make it a seven-run cushion.