LITTLE ROCK - UALR senior Calvin Drinnen scattered five hits and allowed just one unearned run over 7.2 innings on Sunday afternoon to lead the UALR baseball team to a 6-1 victory and a three-game Sun Belt Conference series sweep of ULM (22-24, 7-17). The Trojans (19-27, 9-15) held a slim 2-1 lead through seven innings as Drinnen and ULM's Drew Granier engaged in a classic pitcher's duel, but UALR exploded for four insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to pick up its first SBC series sweep since 2010.
"It was certainly a nice way to finish the home portion of our schedule. You have to tip your hat to Drew Granier for his performance, but Calvin Drinnen matched him pitch-for-pitch and inning-by-inning, and we were able to get some clutch hits that made the difference," said UALR head coach Scott Norwood. "Andrew Hohn came on in the eighth and got a clutch out for us with the tying run on third and we were able to carry that momentum over into the bottom half and score some runs."
Hohn took the mound for Drinnen in the top of the eighth with runners on the corners and two outs, and UALR clinging to a 2-1 lead. The North Little Rock-native got an inning-ending ground out from Jason Hicks to escape the jam, and then worked a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the year.
Granier allowed just three hits and two runs (one earned) to UALR over the first seven innings, but the Trojans erupted for four runs with two outs on the board in the bottom of the eighth. Five of UALR's eight hits came in the eighth inning, starting with a two-out, solo homer to left by senior Jason Houston - his second of the series.
Junior Nick Rountree followed with a double to left and scored on a base knock by senior Jake Rowell to give UALR a 4-1 lead. Junior Cameron Bentley plated Rowell with a run-scoring double to left center, and junior Sean Bignall capped off the four-run rally when he scored from third on a passed ball.
Houston, Rowell and Bignall paced the Trojans with two hits apiece, with Rowell driving in a pair of runs and scoring two. Drinnen improved to 4-5 on the year by holding the Warhawks to five hits and three walks, with one strikeout, over 7.2 innings.
Granier took the loss after allowing six hits and five runs (four earned), with eight strikeouts, over 7.2 innings. He held the Trojans without a hit over the first three innings, before Rowell put UALR on the board with a solo homer to left in the bottom of the fourth. Rowell thought he had been hit by a pitch during the at-bat and tried to take first, but was called back by the home plate umpire. He sent the very next offering from Granier over the fence in left for his fifth home run of the year.
After stranding a runner at third in the top of the fourth, the Warhawks got on the board in the fifth after a two-out fielding error extended the inning. Drinnen retired the first two batters in the fifth, but Les Aulds reached on a fielding error at second and Jarrett Hammond drew a two-out walk. Caleb Clowers knotted things up at 1-all with a two-out, RBI single to right.
UALR capitalized on a pair of ULM errors to take the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore Myles Parma opened the inning with a leadoff walk, and moved over to third as ULM committed a throwing error on a bunt single by Houston. Parma scored the go-ahead run from third as ULM catcher Joey Cesario threw the ball into left field as he tried to pickoff Parma at third.
UALR returns to action next weekend (May 13-15) when it travels to Boca Raton for a three-game series with Florida Atlantic. UALR's midweek game with Kansas has been cancelled due to a conflict with KU's class schedules. The Jayhawks will make up the game by playing a pair of games in Little Rock next season.