LITTLE ROCK - Behind the play of two Crowder College transfers David Guarno and Chance Cleveland, the UALR baseball team (6-3) knocked off the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-4) by a score of 5-2 on Friday from Gary Hogan Field.
Guarno tallied three hits in all three plate appearances, including a solo home run, shot putting his batting average from a lowly .125 to a stout .364. Cleveland worked 7.1 innings of four-hit baseball, earning him his second consecutive win and helping the Trojans rebound from a 9-5 loss to Wichita State on Thursday.
Junior Ben Crumpton was a catalyst for the Trojans in the lead-off spot, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Senior Blake Johnson also had two hits for the Trojans, including an RBI-sacrifice bunt in the third inning.
In the bottom of the second inning, an RBI-double off the right field fence from Guarno plated senior Chris Burk and quickly gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead. With a 2-0 lead and two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, it was Guarno once again sparking the Trojan's offence. Guarno parked a 2-1 offering from Iowa starting pitcher Sasha Kuebel, giving UALR its third run in as many innings.
Crumpton led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a double and then proceeded to steal third base a few pitches later. The throw from the Iowa catcher sailed into left field, allowing Crumpton to trot home easily. The Trojans scratched another run across in the inning, courtesy of an RBI-fielder's choice by senior John Clark. After five innings, UALR held a commanding 5-0 lead.
On the mound Cleveland was his usual self, working at a quick pace and keeping the Hawkeyes off the scoreboard. Command was an issue for Cleveland, however, as he plunked seven Iowa hitters and walked two others. Despite the free passes allowed by Cleveland, Iowa failed to take advantage of his mistakes, leaving a total of 12 runners on base on the afternoon.
Cleveland ran into some trouble in the top of the third inning as the Hawkeyes loaded the bases with only one out. Cleveland then induced a strike out and a fly-out, getting UALR out of the jam.
Iowa scored two unearned runs in the sixth inning following an error in the field from the Trojan defense, but another runner was stranded in the inning as UALR led 5-2 after six complete frames.
Sophomore Cameron Allen pitched in relief of Cleveland and recorded two quick outs to get the Trojans out of the eighth inning. Iowa made things interesting for the Trojans in the top of the ninth, leading off the inning with two infield singles off junior Dillon Moritz. Moritz kept his composure though and induced a 4-6-3 double play to the very next batter, killing any hopes of an Iowa rally. A ground-out to second base sealed the win for the Trojans and gave Moritz his fourth save of the season.
UALR returns to action Saturday afternoon for the second of two games against Iowa this weekend. Senior RHP Blake Huffman is scheduled to make the start on the mound for the Trojans, while freshman RHP Calvin Mathews is projected to get the start for the Hawkeyes. First pitch from Gary Hogan field is scheduled for 3 p.m.