LITTLE ROCK – Junior Jason Houston hit two home runs on Friday night and the UALR baseball team (19-13) banged out 16 hits on its way to a 13-2 victory over Belmont (16-16) at Gary Hogan Field. Senior Adam Champion held the Bruins to two runs (one earned) over 6.2 innings and UALR scored 10 runs with two outs on the board en route to its third-straight win.
“We got a good Friday night performance on the mound and we were able to swing the bats well and score some runs,” said UALR head coach Scott Norwood. “I liked the character our team showed tonight. We were coming off the emotional high of a big win at Ole Miss on Wednesday, yet we came out here and took care of business. Hopefully that continues tomorrow.”
It was the second multi-homer game of the year for Houston, who also belted two home runs against SIU Edwardsville on Feb. 28. The Kansas City, Mo.-native went 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBI in the win, while bringing his season home run total to 10 round trippers.
Champion improved to 4-2 on the year by holding Belmont to eight hits and two runs (one earned) over 6.2 innings. The 6-7 left hander totaled three strikeouts against just one walk, and retired nine-straight Bruins over one stretch.
Senior Landis Wilson and Tim Emmons added three hits apiece for UALR and were two of four Trojans to drive in multiple runs in the win. Wilson went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI, while Emmons enjoyed a 3-for-5, two-RBI performance.
Belmont starter Nate Woods (2-4) took the loss after allowing eight hits and seven runs (four earned) over 5.0 innings. Catcher Matt Zeblo was the only Bruin with multiple hits on Friday night, going 2-for-4 at the plate.
The Bruins got on the board in the top of the second as a Trojan fielding error and a single to center set the stage for a RBI groundout by Jared Breen. Woods opened the game with two scoreless frames, but a costly fielding error in the third led to a two-out, two-run homer by Houston. Junior Casey McCollum reached base on a fielding error at second, and Houston made the Bruins pay with a two-run shot to left center to put UALR ahead, 2-1.
UALR manufactured a run in the bottom of the fourth to extend its lead to three runs, 4-1. The Trojans loaded the bases with no outs off a pair of singles and a hit batsman, but managed only one run on a RBI groundout by junior Brock Feldmann. Woods was able to get an inning-ending double play from the next batter he faced to prevent any further damage.
UALR broke things open in the fifth, plating four runs with two outs on the board to take a 7-1 lead. Houston started the rally with a solo homer to left, his tenth of the year, and Wilson followed up a double by senior Tyson Park with a RBI base knock to left center. Wilson came around to score moments later on a RBI single through the right side by Emmons. Senior Nate Brown was also able to score on Emmons’ single, as the throw to the plate from right field got past Belmont’s catcher.
Champion settled in after allowing a two-out double to Matt Zeblo in the third, retiring the next nine Bruins he faced before surrendering a single to Tim Eggerton in the top of the sixth. After four shutout frames, Belmont was able to scratch across a run in the seventh as Breen followed up a leadoff walk by Drew Turner with a run-scoring double down the left field line.
Junior Travis Henke took the mound in relief of Champion in the seventh with runners on second and third with two outs on the board, and promptly induced a 6-3 groundout from the first batter he faced to end the threat.
Leading 7-2, UALR answered with five runs in the bottom half, four of which came with two outs on the board, to go on top, 12-2. UALR banged out six hits in the frame, with Rowell capping off the scoring with a two-out, two-run single to right. Wilson and Emmons each picked up their second RBI of the game with a run-scoring single and double, respectively, while junior Trevor Burton added a pinch-hit RBI base knock for the Trojans.
Belmont went down quietly in the eighth, as Henke retired the Bruins in order with two strikeouts. The Trojans added an unearned run in the bottom half, and Henke and senior Anthony Pryor combined on a perfect ninth to cap off UALR’s win.
The two teams return to action Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.