NORTH LITTLE ROCK - No. 10 Oklahoma jumped out to a 6-1 lead on its way to 7-3 victory over the UALR baseball team in front of a record crowd of 1,966 fans at Dickey-Stephens Park on Wednesday night. UALR (16-27) outhit the Sooners 9-to-8, but left 10 runners on base and was never able to overcome its early deficit.
OU's Cameron Seitzer and Chris Ellison drove in two runs a piece in the win, while starting pitcher Steven Bruce allowed just two runs (one earned) and five hits over 5.0 innings to improve to 2-0 on the year. Ellison went 2-for-3 with one run scored, two RBI and two stolen bases to lead the Sooners.
UALR junior Sean Bignall led all players with three hits in the game, while adding one run, one RBI and two stolen bases. UALR starter Garret Graziano (3-8) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs and three hits over 2.2 innings.
Junior Nick Grimmett put UALR in position to make a comeback by holding Oklahoma to just one hit over 4.0 innings of relief. Grimmett retired seven Sooners in-a-row over one stretch, sitting OU down 1-2-3 in the seventh and eighth innings, but the Trojans left the bases loaded in the sixth and were never able to rally against the Sooners.
After both clubs went down in order in the first, the Sooners took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second as Seitzer scored from third on a wild pitch by senior Graziano. The Trojans knotted things up at 1-all in the bottom half as junior Nick Rountree reached on a Sooner error to lead things off and came around to score two batters later on a RBI base knock by Bignall.
Oklahoma didn't waste much time in reclaiming the lead, as Cale Ellis opened the third with a solo homer to deep right to make it a 2-1 contest. Eric Ross followed with a single to center and scored from second two batters later as Seitzer delivered a two-out, RBI single through the left side off reliever Dillon Wilson.
Aggressive base running by Ellis allowed the Sooners to take a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth, as OU's shortstop reached on a bunt single and worked his way over to third with a pair of stolen bases. Ellis scored from third as Ellison came through with a two-out, bunt single down the first base line.
The Sooners pushed across two more runs in the top of the fifth as Evan Mistich started things off with a leadoff single up the middle, and Garrett Buechele drew a walk from Wilson. Grimmett took the mound for UALR with two runners on and no outs, but could not prevent OU from adding to its lead. Seitzer plated Mistich with a RBI base knock through the right side to make it a 5-1 ballgame, and Max White capped off the scoring as his sacrifice bunt allowed Buechele to score from third.
Trailing 6-1, UALR cut its deficit to four in the bottom half as sophomore Myles Parma singled to right with runners on second and third. McCollum scored easily on Parma's single, but junior Cameron Bentley was thrown out at the plate (9-3-2) as he tried to score from second.
UALR squandered a prime opportunity to cut into OU's lead in the bottom of the sixth, as the Trojans came up empty handed after loading the bases with no outs. Tyson Seng took the mound for OU at the start of the inning and walked the first two batters he faced, before being pulled in favor of Kindle Ladd. Bignall greeted Ladd with a bunt single to load the bases with no outs, but Ladd responded by striking out the next two batters he faced before inducing an inning-ending grounder to first to escape the jam unscathed.
Bignall scored from third in the bottom of the eighth on a RBI grounder by senior Casey McCollum to bring the Trojans within three, but OU tacked on an unearned run in the ninth to bring the game to its 7-3 finale.
UALR returns to action this weekend when it welcomes ULM to Gary Hogan Field for a three-game series beginning Friday night at 6 p.m.