LITTLE ROCK – The UALR baseball team had a chance to clinch a spot in the Sun Belt Tournament with a win over Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon, but the visiting Red Wolves had other ideas.
Arkansas State won by a 7-2 margin at Gary Hogan Field on Saturday, putting the Trojans’ tournament hopes in question for now. With a South Alabama loss at Troy later Saturday night, UALR will advance to the league tournament. A South Alabama win would end the UALR season.
The Trojans (25-29, 11-19 Sun Belt Conference) were unable to get anything plated against the Red Wolves on Saturday until they were already down five runs, and by then it was too late. Chandler Hawkins earned the victory for the Red Wolves (30-25, 18-12), while Cameron Allen was the tough-luck loser for the Trojans.
Petr Sila had a 3-for-3 outing while also walking twice and earning an RBI. Austin Pfeiffer had two hits in the leadoff position and Ben Crumpton added two hits as well.
Allen had a great start, retiring 10 consecutive Red Wolves batters after allowing a leadoff hit.
But in the top of the fourth inning, Arkansas State finally got to him. Four straight batters reached on three singles and a walk, and Stuart Levy’s single scored Tanner Ring from second base. A bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Dustin Jones two batters later brought Matt Burgess home to make it 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
UALR had five hits through the first three innings, but the team could not string them together to plate a run. Sila nearly broke the scoreless tie in the first inning, but he was thrown out at home while trying to score from second on a Tanner Rockwell bloop single.
The Trojans had another opportunity to plate runs in the fifth inning, loading the bases with a walk, a single and a hit-by-pitch. But with two outs, Crumpton lofted a fly ball into right field, and Arkansas State caught it easily to end the threat.
The Red Wolves put the game away with a three-run eighth inning, and the Trojans had to cycle through three pitchers to get out of the jam. Two doubles and two singles went on the board for Arkansas State, with Levy’s two-run double at the end of the inning doing the most damage.
UALR got its first run of the afternoon in the eighth inning thanks to a Crumpton double down the left field line. Three batters later, Justin Steelmon brought him home with a single to right-center field. Arkansas State added two more runs in the top of the ninth, though, distancing themselves from the Trojans once again.
UALR did manage one more run in the top of the ninth, but Rockwell grounded into a double play to end the weekend. The Trojans stranded 11 runners throughout the contest.
The Trojans now await their Sun Belt Tournament fate as South Alabama and Troy square off later in the evening.