LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – UALR sophomore Brad Swiderski drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth to push across the game-winning run and give the Trojans a 6-5 win over Northern Iowa at Gary Hogan Field.
UALR (1-5) held a 4-0 lead after four innings, before a five-run outburst by the Panthers in the top of the fifth. UNI saw four of its seven hits come in the fifth inning, and scored all five runs with two outs on the board – including a three-run bomb by Chris Lopez.
Senior Levi Laughlin (1-0) came on in relief of starter Ashur Tolliver at the start of the sixth, and closed out the game with 4.0 scoreless innings by holding the Panthers to two hits. Tolliver opened the game with four shutout innings, holding UNI to just one hit, but ran into trouble in the fifth after issuing a leadoff walk. The Trojans didn’t do themselves any favors by failing to turn a double play immediately after the leadoff walk.
Trailing 4-5, the Trojans took advantage of a pair of defensive miscues to tie the game at 5-all in the bottom of the sixth. Laughlin and UNI reliever Mike O’Leary, who allowed three hits and one unearned run over 4.2 innings in relief of starter Joe Gonzalez, kept the offenses quiet heading into the ninth with the game tied at 5-all.
Laughlin did his part for UALR by sitting the Panthers down in order in the top of the ninth. UNI reliever Jason Smith (0-1) took the mound for O’Leary at the start of the bottom half, and ran into trouble immediately.
Junior Clay Rominger got the Trojans’ ninth-inning rally started by drawing a leadoff walk. Junior T.J. King came on to pinch run for Rominger, and quickly moved up to third after Smith unleashed a wild pitch and was then called for a balk.
With a runner on third and no outs, Smith was able to get the first out of the inning, before UNI decided to load the bases with consecutive intentional walks to freshman Zach Rowles and senior Nick DeSanctis.
With the bags full and one out, UNI reliever Nick Lauver was called on to work the Panthers out of the jam. Lauver got the second out of the inning at the plate when a miscommunication saw the Trojans lay down a bunt, but with two outs and the bases loaded, he walked Swiderski on four-straight pitches to end the game.
Smith was credited with the loss after allowing one run off three walks in 0.1 innings pitched. Laughlin picked up his first win of the season by striking out four and holding UNI to two hits over 4.0 frames.
UALR outhit the Panthers 10-to-7 in the game, led by two hits a piece from senior Robert Taylor, junior Eric Hanlon and junior Kody Kroll. Both of Taylor’s hits were doubles, while Hanlon finished with a team-high two RBI in the win.
Brandon Douglas led UNI with two hits in the losing effort, while Lopez finished with a game-high three RBI compliments of his three-run homer off Tolliver in the fifth.
The two teams return to action Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. for the third game of a four-game series.