LITTLE ROCK – The UALR baseball team improved to 3-0 with a 9-5 win over Central Arkansas (1-2) on Tuesday night at Gary Hogan Field. The Trojans jumped out to an 8-1 lead after five innings behind a solid start from junior Ryan Juris, but had to call on senior closer JR Boling to fend off a late rally by the Bears.
Juris threw a solid 6.2 innings to get the victory in his UALR debut, holding UCA to eight hits and two runs, with five strikeouts against just one walk. The Trojans were up 9-2 when Juris left the game in the seventh, but the Bears rallied against the UALR bullpen in the top of the eighth, plating three runs to make it a 9-5 contest.
Leading 9-5, Boling took the mound with the bases loaded and two outs on the board and induced an inning-ending fly ball from Michael Marrietta to escape the jam. Boling then threw a perfect ninth, retiring the Bears in order, to pick up his first save of the season.
“It’s a good win for us. Any time you play an in-state opponent, you have to play through the emotion and trust your ability, and we were able to do that,” said UALR head coach Scott Norwood. “I think it’s good for Arkansas baseball for in-state teams to play each other, and it’s also good for the local economy and the fans. Hopefully it will happen more often in the future.”
The Trojans were outhit 11-to-10 on Tuesday night, but scored three unearned runs off two UCA errors and received a two-run homer from senior Landis Wilson – his first of the year. Juniors Jason Houston and Brock Feldmann led the Trojans with two hits apiece in the win.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when junior Jake Rowell followed a double by Houston with a RBI base knock through the right side. UALR tacked on four more runs in the fourth to extend its lead to 5-0, fueled by a two-run homer to left from Wilson. The Trojans went on to load the bases off relief pitcher Dustin Ward and tacked on two more runs off a fielding error at third base.
Leading 5-1 in the fifth, the Trojan offense loaded the bases with no outs after opening the frame with a hit batsmen and back-to-back walks. A bunt by Feldmann led to two more runs for the Trojans when UCA’s throw to first got past Blake Roberts. Senior Nate Brown capped off the three-run frame with a sacrifice fly, and junior Aaron Jarosh made it a 9-2 contest the following inning with a RBI single.
The Bears rallied in the top of the eighth after opening the frame with a hit batter and a double by Jason Houston, but were unable to make up their six-run deficit despite tallying three hits and three free passes (two walks and one HBP). Boling came on to close out the game with the bases loaded and the tying runner at the plate and dashed UCA’s comeback hopes with an inning-ending fly ball to right.
Roberts led the UCA offense with a 3-for-4 effort and two runs scored. Starter Logan Ariola (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing six hits and four runs (three earned) over 3.1 innings of work.
UALR returns to action this weekend when it welcomes SIU-Edwardsville to Gary Hogan Field for a four-game series, beginning Friday at 6 p.m.