The victory by Cleveland improves his record to 5-1 on
the season in six starts. The right-hander gave up two runs on three hits over
his 8.0 innings of the work and induced nine groundball outs to go along with
his 12 strikeouts. Cleveland's 12 K's moved him into the Sun Belt lead in that
category, and were just two off the single-game UALR record (14) shared by David Klumpp (4/26/08 vs. Houston
Baptist) and Brad Cherry (3/18/03
vs. Western Illinois).
Troy's Tyler Ray, the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of
the Year, was dealt the loss after giving up five runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings
of work. Ray pitched well through his first five innings, but ran into trouble
in the sixth as he gave up four runs on three hits before being pulled with two
outs on the board.
Cooper, who came on in the ninth and recorded the final
two outs of the game for the Trojans, was credited with the save.
The Trojan offense was led by junior Chris Burk who went 2-for-4 on the day
to go along with a pair of runs scored. Senior Nick Rountree hit his fifth homer of the season, a two-run blast in
the sixth and totaled three RBI on the evening. Junior John Clark and sophomore Bryson
Thionnet chipped in with back-to-back RBI doubles as part of UALR's
four-run sixth inning as well.
The Trojans were able to take a 1-0 lead in the top of
the first thanks to Burk's second hit of the day - a leadoff triple off the
fence in right field. Burk would score UALR's first run of the day when the
next batter, Rountree, hit a grounder down the third base line that allowed the
second-baseman to come home and give UALR a one-run cushion.
Cleveland ran into a bit of trouble in the top half of
the sixth, when he hit leadoff hitter Austin Golden with a 1-1 pitch to give
Troy its first base runner since issuing a walk to the first batter of the
fourth. A sac bunt by Tyler Hannah moved Golden to second, and a groundout by Logan
Pierce moved the Troy baserunner to third with two outs on the board. But
Cleveland was able to escape with no further damage, issuing his tenth
strikeout of the game to Danny Collins to get out of the inning unscathed and
keep UALR's one-run lead intact.
UALR grew its lead to five in the bottom of the sixth
on Rountree's two-run homer and a pair of RBI doubles by Clark and Thionnet.
With Burk standing on second base, Rountree got things started when he ripped a
1-2 pitch over the left field fence to build a 3-0 lead for the Trojans. Clark
doubled in the Trojans' second run of the inning, while Thionnet's double down
the left field line plated Clark to make it a 5-0 ballgame.
Cleveland cruised through the top half of the seventh,
retiring the side in order, and then struck out the first two batters he faced
in the eighth before the Troy hitters were finally able to have some success
against him. After the right-hander issued a walk to Golden on a 3-2 count,
Troy picked up its second and third hits of the day on back-to-back singles by
Hannah and Pierce to plate Troy's first run of the game and make it a 5-1
The Pine Bluff, Ark., native came back on to start the
ninth for the Trojans, but promptly plunked the first batter he faced and was
relieved by the left-hander Hohn. Hohn gave up the homer to Bennett on his
third pitch, but settled in to get Tyler Vaughn to fly out for the first out of
the inning. After Brandon Brown singled to give Troy a baserunner, head coach Scott Norwood called on Cooper from the
bullpen to close things out. Cooper was able to get the first batter he faced,
Jakob Nixon, to groundout to Thionnet at short before he got Golden looking on
a 3-2 count to end the game.
UALR and Troy will play game two of their series on
Saturday at 4 p.m. Junior Blake Huffman
will get the start for the Trojans, while Troy's starter is TBA.