LITTLE ROCK -
UALR entered the final day of the regular season needing a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, but Arkansas State (32-21, 19-9 SBC) dashed any plans for a trip to the Sun Belt Tournament by defeating the Trojans 7-3 on Saturday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field. UALR (26-28, 12-18) tried to put together a ninth-inning rally by loading the bases with no outs on the board, but the Red Wolves turned a game-ending double play to secure the win.
ASU senior Cory Kyle (3-4) held the Trojans to eight hits and three runs over a season-high 8.0 innings of work - the longest outing by an ASU pitcher the season. Seth McWilliams took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with a 7-3 lead and the bases loaded with no outs, and recorded his first career save with a strikeout and a game-ending, 5-3 double play line out.
UALR sophomore Bryson Thionnet made his first career start on Sunday, and gave the Trojans a chance by holding ASU to one run over the first five innings. The Moore, Okla.-native ran into trouble in the sixth after five stellar innings, and ended up taking the loss after allowing seven hits and five runs over 5.2 innings of work.
Zach George went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBI to lead the ASU offense and help the Red Wolves outhit the Trojans, 10-to-8. Michael Faulkner and Logan Uxa added two hits apiece, with Faulkner picking up two steals to increase his Sun Belt-leading total to 38.
Senior Nick Rountree and junior Myles Parma paced the Trojans with two hits apiece in the losing effort, while junior John Clark and senior Cameron Bentley hit back-to-back homers in the fifth to give UALR a 3-1 lead.
Faulkner helped the Red Wolves take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after opening the game with a leadoff single to center. He worked his way over to third off a groundout to short and a long fly ball to center, and scored the game's first run on a two-out, RBI single by Uxa.
Kyle coasted over the first four innings on Saturday afternoon, holding the Trojans to just two hits over four scoreless frames. He got a pair of fly ball outs around a single by junior Chris Burk before UALR got on the board as Clark and Bentley hit back-to-back homers. Clark made it a 2-1 ballgame with a two-run shot to right, his fourth of the year, before Bentley answered with a solo blast to right - his sixth of the year.
Thionnet followed up the first inning with four shutout frames in his first-ever start as a Trojan, but the Red Wolves used four singles and two walks to manufacture four runs and reclaim the lead, 5-3, in the sixth. ASU loaded the bases with one out on the board off two singles and a walk, before Thionnet forced across a run with his second-consecutive walk to pinch hitter Zach Maggio. The Red Wolves tied things up on a sacrifice fly to right by Stuart Levy, and retook the lead with a RBI single to center from Dustin Jones, which chased Thionnet from the game. ASU got one more run in the inning as Faulkner delivered a RBI base knock to right center off sophomore Andrew Hohn.
Hohn and junior Bubba Cooper combined on a scoreless seventh, but the Red Wolves tacked on two insurance runs following back-to-back walks with two outs on the board. Cooper retired the first two batters of the inning, but consecutive walks to Faulkner and Kaleb Brown set the stage for a two-out, two-run double by George.
Kyle followed up a rocky fifth inning with three scoreless innings as the Trojans managed just one hit over the sixth, seventh and eighth. Trailing 7-3, UALR tried to mount a ninth-inning rally for the second-straight game as Rountree tried to get things going with a leadoff double. The Trojans loaded the bases with no outs on the board as junior Blake Johnson walked and Myles Parma singled to shallow left. McWilliams took the mound after Parma's single and struck out the first Trojan he faced. With the bases loaded and one out, McWilliams got the next batter to line into a 5-3 game-ending double play to secure his first career save.