NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -
Senior Cameron Bentley
drove in four runs and delivered a two-out, walk off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to lead UALR (24-24) to a 9-8 win over Central Arkansas (20-24) in front of 1,354 fans at Dickey-Stephens Park. The Trojans rallied from a 7-3 deficit by scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by a three-run homer from Bentley.
Senior Sean Bignall went 4-for-5 in the win and belted his 18th home run of the year in the bottom of the first, which moved him into a tie for the national lead. He added a RBI triple in the third to set a new UALR single-season record with 141 total bases, and added two more singles to help the Trojans outhit the Bears 12-to-10. UCA's Blake Roberts went 2-for-4 and totaled five RBI in the loss, and helped UCA to its 7-3 lead by hitting a three-run homer in the top of the third.
Freshman Cameron Allen (2-1) got the win in relief after recording the final out in the top of the 10th to strand a pair of UCA runners. Dylan Owen (1-1) was saddled with the loss for the Bears, despite holding UALR to five hits and one run over 4.0 innings.
Bignall gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a two-out, solo homer to straightaway centerfield. UALR's advantage stood until the top of the third, when Roberts delivered a two-out, three-run homer. UALR starter Ethan Schlechte opened the game with three strikeouts over a pair of scoreless frames, but got into trouble in the third after issuing a two-out walk to Bryan Willson with a man on second. Roberts followed with his three-run blast to right center, his fifth of the year, to put the Bears on top 3-1.
UALR pushed across two runs in the bottom half to tie things up, with Bignall capping off the rally with a run-scoring triple to right. Sophomore Bryson Thionnet opened the inning with an infield single and moved over to third with a pair of stolen bases. He scored on the second stolen base attempt as a throwing error by UCA catcher Travis Snider found its way into left field. Bignall tied things up at 3-all two batters later by scoring sophomore Ben Crumpton with a two-out, RBI triple to right - his fourth of the year. The triple pushed Bignall's season total to 141 total bases, which established a new UALR single-season record and broke the previous mark of 138 set by Greg Taylor in 1996.
The Bears took advantage of four walks in the top of the fourth to manufacture four runs and build a 7-3 edge. Schlechte walked the first two batters of the inning before Forrestt Allday loaded the bases with a bunt single. Schlechte issued a bases-loaded walk to Ethan Harris to force across a run before getting pulled in favor of sophomore Austin Pfeiffer. UCA's next three batters picked up an RBI before Pfeiffer got the Trojans out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
Ethan McKinzie came out to pitch for UCA in the fourth and threw a pair of shutout frames, striking out three batters in the fourth, before UALR got to him in the sixth. A one-out walk by junior Blake Johnson and a single by junior Myles Parma set the stage for a RBI base knock from sophomore Kaleb Jobe. A walk to Thionnet loaded the bases and junior John Clark plated a run with a sacrifice fly to left to bring the Trojans within two, 7-5. With runners on the corners and two outs, UALR reclaimed the lead, 8-7, as Bentley delivered a three-run homer to right center.
Pfeiffer worked his way out of a jam in the top of the seventh to protect the 8-7 lead after UCA's first two batters reached base off a Trojan fielding error and a hit by pitch. Pfeiffer retired the next two batters off a pair of fly outs, and struck out Logan Moon to end the inning and leave runners on second and third. Pfeiffer turned things over to the bullpen in the eighth, but the Bears managed to tie things up as Harris singled off sophomore Andrew Hohn and Roberts tied the game with a two-out double to right off junior Bubba Cooper.
Both teams went quietly in the ninth to send the game into extra innings, but UCA threatened immediately in the 10th after its first two batters reached base off singles. After Allday made it safely to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt, Cooper battled back to retire the next two UCA hitters before giving way to freshman Cameron Allen. The Wichita Falls, Texas-native took the mound with two runners on and two outs, and got out of the jam as Thionnet threw out Roberts at first on a grounder deep into the hole at short.
Jobe sparked UALR's rally in the bottom of the 10th by drawing a leadoff walk, and pinch runner Tyler Cameron quickly moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Thionnet. Owen bounced back to strike out the next Trojan, but Bentley came through with a walk off, RBI single to right with two outs on the board to give UALR the win.
The Trojans return to Gary Hogan Field this weekend for a three-game series with Florida Atlantic beginning Friday, May 11 at 6 p.m.