LITTLE ROCK - The UALR baseball team (5-5) won the opener of its three-game series with IPFW (0-2) Friday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field by a final score of 2-0. Garret Graziano gave up just three hits over eight scoreless innings to earn his second win of 2011, while Travis Henke closed out the ninth inning to pick up his second save of the year.
Friday's game marks the second combined shutout of 2011 for Graziano and Henke, as the pair also combined to blank Stephen F. Austin in game four of their series in Nacogdoches, Texas, on February 20. In that contest, Graziano went 6.0 innings before Henke closed out the final three in a 3-0 UALR victory.
The Trojans manufactured their first run in the bottom of the second inning, as Casey McCollum and Sean Bignall led off the frame with back-to-back singles. After a throwing error by the Mastadons loaded the bases, Hector Acosta drove in the game's first run with a deep fly ball to center field that allowed McCollum to tag and score, giving the Trojans an early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, UALR added its second run of the night on back-to-back hits by Bignall and Nick Rountree. After Bignall hit a one-out double to right center, Rountree ripped a single to nearly the exact same spot to score Bignall and put the Trojans up 2-0.
Graziano pitched well throughout the game for the Trojans. The right-hander did not surrender a hit until the top of the fourth inning and allowed just five base runners on the night. The junior's 8.0 innings of work were the most of any UALR pitcher thus far in 2011.
Henke earned his team-leading second save by striking out two and getting the third to pop out to end the game. The senior now has nine strike outs in just nine innings of work this season.
UALR and IPFW will be back at Gary Hogan Field on Saturday at 3 p.m. for the second game of their three-game series.