LITTLE ROCK -
UALR (18-17, 5-9) picked up its second Sun Belt Conference series win of the season with a 13-9 victory over South Alabama (12-23, 7-7) on Saturday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field. The Trojans hit three home runs in the first inning to jump out to a 5-0 lead, and went ahead 10-2 in the fourth inning before the Jaguars used a grand slam in the sixth to make it a two-run game. Sunday's finale between the two teams has been moved to 11 a.m. because of weather concerns.
"We did a good job of coming out today and building off of yesterday's win. We are able to get on them early, and our bullpen did a good job of closing the game out over the last three innings," said UALR head coach Scott Norwood. "We have hit the ball really well the last two games. Now we just need to find a way to continue that tomorrow and hopefully get a sweep."
Sophomore Ben Crumpton went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and four RBI to lead UALR to its first-ever series win over the Jaguars. Senior Cameron Bentley enjoyed a 4-for-5 day at the plate with four runs scored, two doubles and a triple, while senior Nick Rountree added a 3-for-5 performance with three runs scored and three RBI. Crumpton, who fell a double shy of a cycle, was one of three Trojans to hit a home run in the bottom of the first, as junior Blake Johnson hit a two-run shot and senior Sean Bignall connected for his Sun Belt-leading 14th homer of the year.
Dustin Dalken paced the Jaguars with a 3-for-5, five-RBI performance, hitting a two-out grand slam in the top of the sixth to help USA make it an 11-9 ballgame. USA starter Dillon Buhrkuhl (1-4) was tagged with the loss after allowing eight hits and eight runs over 3.0 innings. Junior Blake Huffman got the win for UALR to improve to 4-3 on the year. Huffman allowed seven hits, seven runs and six walks to the Jaguars, but managed to work into the sixth inning before turning things over to the bullpen.
UALR jumped all over Buhrkuhl in the bottom of the first, scoring five runs off three homers before the sophomore right hander recorded a single out. Bentley led off the frame with his team-leading 12th double of the year, and Crumpton and Bignall followed with back-to-back home runs. Crumpton gave the Trojans a 2-0 lead with a two-run shot to right (his first of the year), and Bignall hit one in nearly the same spot to make it a 3-0 contest. After Rountree singled up the middle, Johnson hit his second homer in as many days, a two-run shot to deep left, to put the Trojans on top 5-0.
Huffman retired the Jaguars in order in the top of the first, but got into trouble in the second after opening the frame with back-to-back walks. The Tyler, Texas-native bounced back to retire the next two hitters, but J.T. Files came through with a two-out double off the wall in right center to cut South Alabama's deficit to three runs, 5-2.
UALR tacked on a run in the bottom of the third after loading the bases with one out on the board off a single, a walk and a hit batter. Sophomore Bryson Thionnet made it a 6-2 contest with a RBI groundout to first, but Buhrkuhl managed to strand runners at second and third with an inning-ending groundout to short from the next batter.
Leading 6-2, the Trojans manufactured four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 10-2 lead, as the team's first five batters reached base to spark the rally. UALR caught a break at the start of the inning, as an infield pop-up by Bentley got caught in the wind and fell between several Jaguars for a double. Crumpton plated Bentley with a triple to right (his third of the year), and Rountree added a two-run double down the left field line to make it a 9-2 ballgame. Junior Myles Parma capped off the scoring with a RBI base knock to right.
After both teams scratched across a run in the fifth, South Alabama erupted for six runs in the top of the sixth to cut its deficit to two runs, 11-9. A leadoff walk by Files and a single by Nolan Earley set the stage for a RBI single from Whitt Dorsey. Huffman struck out Jordan Patterson for the second out, but issued a walk to Brad Hook to load the bases. Junior Austin Pfeiffer came on to pitch to Nick Zaharion, but a catcher's interference against the Trojans forced across a run, and Dalken followed with a two-out, grand slam to left to make it a two-run game.
With its lead cut to two, UALR had an opportunity to add some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with one out on the board. But the Trojans left the bags full for the second-straight inning, as reliever James Traylor escaped the jam with a strikeout and an inning-ending pop-up to short.
The Jaguars threatened in the top of the eighth, as Patterson tried to spark a rally with a leadoff double. Sophomore Andrew Hohn took the mound for Pfeiffer after the double, and managed to get an out from each of the next three batters to strand Patterson at third.
UALR gave itself some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth as Bentley hit his third triple of the year to score Thionnet and make it a 12-9 contest. Bentley scored on the next play off a RBI single by Crumpton. Junior Bubba Cooper came on to close things out in the top of the ninth and retired the first two batters he faced before surrendering a two-out single to Hunt Griffith. Earley followed with a double to deep centerfield, but the Trojans were able to nail Griffith at the plate (8-6-2) to end the game.
UALR and South Alabama conclude the three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 11 a.m.