Freshman Cameron Allen
held FIU (24-16, 10-8 Sun Belt) to four runs (one earned) over a career-high 8.0 innings to lead UALR (20-19, 7-11) to a 6-4 victory on Sunday afternoon and give the Trojans a 2-1 series win. Allen (1-0) limited FIU to five hits with five strikeouts to pick up his first career win, and sophomore Bryson Thionnet
worked a perfect ninth for his second save of the year.
Thionnet contributed from an offensive standpoint as well, following up a two-run double by junior Chris Burk with a three-run homer as part of a five-run sixth inning which gave the Trojans a 6-2 lead. Jabari Henry hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to bring FIU within two, but Thionnet shut the door on the Panthers in the ninth to give UALR its first series win over FIU in Miami since 2000.
"We got a couple of good wins today, which gives us a chance to get back into the conference race a little bit. Anytime you can win on the road in this conference it's a big deal," said UALR head coach Scott Norwood. "We threw a lot better today than we had the first two days. Cameron was awesome today. He battled all game and was really phenomenal. Bryson gave us a big lift with his home run, and then was able to finish off the last game in the ninth."
"I really thought it was a big momentum changer when Bubba Cooper started the day by getting us out of that bases-loaded jam when we picked game two back up."
Allen and FIU starter R.J. Fondon kept both offenses in check for the first five innings, with a solo homer by sophomore Ben Crumpton in the top of the first marking the only scoring done by either team during that stretch. Fondon allowed just one run over the first six innings, but got into trouble in the seventh after UALR's first three batters reached base. He took the loss after allowing four hits and five runs (four earned) over 6.0 innings.
FIU looked primed to tie things up in the top of the second, but came away empty handed despite hitting three singles in the frame. UALR got the second out of the inning on a base-running miscue, and Allen struck out Aramis Garcia to strand runners at the corners. The Trojans put a runner on third with two outs on the board in the top of the fourth, but Fondon prevented UALR from adding to its lead with an inning-ending pop up to short.
After five shutout innings, the Golden Panthers capitalized on two errors and a balk to push across two runs and take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Julius Gaines reached on a fielding error at second base, and moved up as Allen was called for a balk. Pablo Bermudez followed with a chopper back to Allen, but the Wichita Falls, Texas-native threw the ball away as he tried to get an out at third and Gaines came around to score on the error. FIU put runners on the corners with two outs, and T.J. Shantz delivered a RBI base knock to right to make it a 2-1 game.
Fondon retired nine-consecutive Trojans after surrendering a leadoff single to sophomore Tyler Cameron in the top of the third, but got into trouble in the seventh as UALR's first three batters reached base. Senior Nick Rountree reached on an error to open the inning, and Fondon hit junior Blake Johnson and walked junior Myles Parma to load the bases with no outs. Trailing 2-1, Burk put the Trojans back on top with a two-run double over the head of FIU's Bermudez in center. FIU brought on closer Michael Gomez after Burk's double, but Thionnet welcomed the 6-2 left hander into the game with a three-run homer just inside the foul pole in right- his third of the year.
Allen bounced back to pitch a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, but wasn't as fortunate in the eighth as Nathan Burns reached on a Trojan fielding error and Henry delivered a two-run blast to left - his ninth of the year. Allen retired the next two batters he faced to get out of the eighth, and turned things over to Thionnet at the start of the ninth. Thionnet moved up from shortstop to take the mound, while Crumpton came in from right to take Thionnet's place at short. Making his first relief appearance since April 8, Thionnet sat the Panthers down in-order to seal the win. Crumpton had a hand in two of the outs in the ninth, as he handled a groundout by Adam Kirsch and made a diving catch on a pop-up in shallow center from Oscar Aguirre.
UALR returns to action Tuesday, April 24 when it travels to Ruston, La. to take on Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. The Trojans will then welcome Louisiana' Ragin' Cajuns to Gary Hogan Field for a three-game set beginning Friday, April 27.