MONROE, La. -
The UALR baseball team (23-22, 10-12 Sun Belt) fought back from a 4-0 deficit to earn a 6-5 victory over ULM (22-24, 9-13) in the series opener at Warhawk Field on Friday night. The Trojan bullpen fueled the comeback as five pitchers combined to allow just two hits over four shutout innings, with sophomore Bryson Thionnet
working the final 1.1 innings to record his fourth save of the year.
Senior Cameron Bentley went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a homer in the win, while senior Sean Bignall blasted his conference-leading 17th home run in the top of the seventh to tie things up at 5-all. Junior Bubba Cooper (2-3) got the win in relief after striking out Logan Fiasco (looking) to end the seventh inning and strand a pair of runners on base.
UALR starter Chance Cleveland allowed 11 hits and five runs (three earned) over 5.0 innings in a no decision. ULM starter Shelby Aulds blanked the Trojans over the first three innings, but surrendered a run in the fourth and was pulled after giving up a solo homer to Bentley in the top of the fifth.
ULM outhit the Trojans 13-to-11 in the loss, led by a 3-for-4 effort from Jeremy Sy, but stranded 12 runners on base. Reliever Kendall Thamm (4-2) took the loss for ULM after allowing four hits and two runs (one earned) over 2.0 innings.
Cleveland retired the first two batters of the game, before Sy delivered the first of four-consecutive hits by ripping a two-out triple off the wall in center. Sy attempted to turn his triple into an inside the park home run, but had to return to the bag after he slipped rounding third base. He scored from third on a wild pitch to put ULM on the board, and Judd Edwards made it a 2-0 game with a RBI base knock through the left side after consecutive singles by Joey Rapp and Corben Green.
ULM used a leadoff walk and three singles to extend its lead to 4-0 in the top of the third. Sy walked to open the inning and scored on the next play as the Trojans committed a throwing error on a bunt single by Rapp. Taylor Abdalla made it a 4-0 contest with a two-out single through the left side, but the Trojans caught Edwards in a rundown between second and third to end the inning.
UALR mustered only one hit off Aulds over the first three innings, but finally got on the board in the top of the fourth when junior Myles Parma plated senior Nick Rountree with a two-out RBI double to right. Aulds followed up Parma's double with back-to-back walks to junior Chris Burk and Thionnet, but got a foul pop-up from the next Trojan to escape the jam and leave the bags full.
Aulds came back out to start the fifth inning, but Bentley ended his evening with a solo homer to deep right - his fourth of the year. ULM called upon Andrew Richardson in place of Aulds, and the Trojans managed to put a runner on third with two outs as senior Ben Crumpton drew a walk and stole two bases - bringing his season total to 19. Richardson was able to strand the runner at third and protect the 4-2 lead, though, as he got an inning-ending ground out to short from the next batter.
ULM tacked on another run with two outs on the board in the bottom half to push its lead back to three runs, 5-2. Cleveland retired the first two batters of the inning before hitting Edwards with a pitch. Edwards advanced on an infield single by Brandon Alexander (ULM's third of the game), and scored from second on a RBI base knock by Abdalla.
Trailing 5-2 in the top of the sixth, UALR put together a two-out rally of its own to make it a one-run game. Richardson got outs from the first two Trojans, but a single by Thionnet and a walk by sophomore Kaleb Jobe chased him from the game. Thamm came on to pitch for the Warhawks, but could not prevent the Trojans from pushing across a run as Bentley singled deep into the hole at second. Jobe scored from third moments later to make it a 5-4 ballgame as a wild pitch from Thamm got past ULM catcher Logan Fiasco.
Bignall tied things up at 5-all in the top of the seventh by leading off the frame with a solo homer to center. UALR then took its first lead of the night in the top of the eighth by plating another run with two outs on the board. Thamm got a pop-up to short from the leadoff hitter and then struck out the next batter he faced, before surrendering back-to-back singles to pinch hitter John Clark and Bentley. The second single chased Thamm from the game, but the runners moved up on a passed ball and Clark scored the winning run from third as reliever Wil Browning was called for a balk.
Sophomore Andrew Hohn and Cooper combined to blank the Warhawks in the sixth and seventh innings before giving way to junior Marshal Hamrick at the start of the eighth. Hamrick got a strikeout and a groundout from the first two batters of the inning before turning things over to freshman Cameron Allen. Sy tried to spark a rally with a two-out single to right off Allen, but Thionnet came in from short to face Rapp and ended the inning with a foul out to first base. Thionnet then worked his way around a two-out walk to shut the door on the Warhawks in the ninth and record the save.
Game two of the series will take place tomorrow evening at 6 p.m.