LITTLE ROCK – UALR baseball gets a solid outing from Ethan Schlechte and timely hitting from Drew Merten to score a 3-1 over IPFW at Gary Hogan Field.
The Trojans (8-2) and Mastodons (3-7) entered the bottom of the eighth knotted in a 1-1 tie. The game-deciding rally started innocently with Justin Steelmon drawing a one-out walk before Austin Pfeiffer popped out to the shortstop. Mitchell Scheuler followed with a hit-by-pitch before Bryson Thionnet walked. That brought last night’s star Merten to the plate with two out and the bases loaded. The catcher came through again for UALR with a two-run single through the middle that gave the team its 3-1 lead heading to the ninth inning.
Schlechte started the game for the Trojans on the mound and had his best outing of the season. The righty tossed seven innings allowing just one run on three hits while striking out a season-high seven. Schlechte faced the minimum through the first four innings because the two hits he allowed were erased on double plays. The second of which featured an impressive snag by Schlechte on a ball hit right at him that started a 1-6-3 double play.
The senior found himself in trouble in the fifth after allowing a leadoff single and back-to-back walks to load the bases. Kevin Wirth, then, reached on an error allowing Carter Deboe to score and tie the game at 1-1. But just as quickly as Schlechte had worked into trouble, he worked out of it. He struck out Caleb Fenimore and Lucas Salerno before getting Tyler Shepherd to ground out to Steelmon at first.
Schlechte was matched pitch-by-pitch by IPFW’s Dane Davis. Davis went 6.2 innings allowing just four hits and one earned run, before giving way to Brandon Phelps in a seventh-inning jam. Phelps was able to get out of that jam, but gave up two runs in the next inning and took the loss.
UALR’s Cory Malcom (1-0) fared much better out of the Trojans’ bullpen. The freshman threw the final two innings allowing just one batter to reach base with a walk and struck out one. The win was Malcom’s first in college.
The Trojans got their first run when Ben Crumpton singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning and stole second. The senior then raced home on Steelmon’s RBI single in to centerfield.
Merten led the offense going 2-for-2 with two RBIs as well has being hit by two pitches. Steelmon drew two walks to go along with his RBI single. Crumpton went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base. He now has 56 career stolen bases, seven behind Miguel Miranda’s school record. Crumpton also became the school’s sixth player to score 100 times in his career tying Jason Houston for fifth all-time in runs scored. Tanner Rockwell also recorded a hit on the afternoon.
The Trojans were scheduled to play Missouri to finish off the three-game round-robin weekend, but inclement weather has forced the team’s to cancel the game scheduled for Sunday. UALR finished the weekend 2-0 with wins over UIC and IPFW.
The team will be back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Stephen F. Austin for a game scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. in Nacogdoches, Texas. UALR's next home game will be Wednesday, March 12 when they take on Arkansas Pine Bluff at Gary Hogan Field.