LITTLE ROCK – The Trojans fell behind early but came back to beat Illinois Chicago 9-5 at Gary Hogan Field. The game was the first of three for UALR in the weekend’s round-robin event.
The hosts fell behind early when starter Travis McDonald had control problems and allowed UIC to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. But the left-hander settled down and gave the Trojans’ offense time to respond.
That’s exactly what the offense did scoring twice in the third and six in the sixth before adding one more insurance run in the seventh.
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth Austin Pfeiffer doubled with one out. After Mitchell Scheuler and Bryson Thionnet were hit, Drew Merten smashed a two-run double down the left field line to give UALR a 4-2 lead. The Trojans added two more runs thanks to an RBI-groundout from Ben Crumpton and a run-scoring walk from Tanner Rockwell. With the bases still loaded and two outs Justin Steelmon provided a two-run single to finish off the scoring in the sixth and leaving UALR up 8-2.
Thionnet added another insurance run in the seventh with a solo home run to left field, the senior’s first of the season.
With the score tied 2-2 and McDonald in another jam the Trojans turned to Jesse Harbin. Harbin, who worked out of three jams last week, did exactly what was expected of him. The sophomore struck out the first batter he faced before walking the bases loaded then once again came up with a big strikeout.
UALR was able to tie the game after Merten led off the bottom of the third with a single. Hayden Martin laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Merten to second. Crumpton legged out an infield single before stealing second. Rockwell then added another infield single that brought Merten home and moved Crumpton to third. Crumpton was then able to score on a wild pitch to even the score.
McDonald pitched 4.1 innings allowing two runs while striking out four. Harbin (2-0) picked up the win by giving the Trojans 2.2 innings in relief while notching four strikeouts. Dyllon Brownmiller and Stephen Chandler combined to pitch the final two innings allowing three runs.
Merten led the offense going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, a double and a walk. Rockwell went 3-for-4, including two infield singles, while driving in two. Thionnet went 2-for-3 with a homer and two runs. Steelmon drove in two with his one hit. Crumpton added a hit, a run and a steal, which was his 56th of his career and is just seven away from tying the school record.
UALR will continue its round-robin action on Saturday at 2 p.m. against IPFW. The Trojans will finish the weekend against Missouri at 1 p.m. on Sunday.