MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Tigers (15-13) rode three first-inning home runs to an early 7-1 lead, then held off Arkansas-Little Rock for an 8-6 win on Tuesday night. The Trojans (21-13) tried to mount a comeback as their bullpen held Memphis scoreless over the final seven innings, but could not complete the rally.
UALR took a brief 1-0 lead in the top of the first, as senior Derek Eilers followed a pair of singles by junior Ryan Gotcher and senior Jacob Stover, with a RBI base knock up the middle. Memphis answered immediately, plating seven runs off six hits (five of which went for extra bases) in the bottom half.
Making his first start of the year, junior Beau Brickell (0-1) ran in to trouble early against the Tiger hitters. Back-to-back solo homers by Will Petersen and Bill Moss gave Memphis a 2-1 lead. Joey Lieberman followed three batters later with a three-run bomb to deep left to make it a 5-1 contest. Junior Scotty Yant came on in relief of Brickell and got the Trojans out of the inning. Brickell’s final stat line featured five hits, two walks and seven runs (four earned) over 0.2 innings.
Yant and sophomore Grant Gatlin had greater success against the Tigers, as the duo allowed just one run over the next 6.1 innings. Gatlin went 3.1 frames in relief of Yant, allowing just two hits and a walk, while striking out three. Junior Dustin Turner closed out the game by throwing a scoreless ninth.
With the Memphis offense held in check, the Trojans began to work their way back in to the game. UALR pushed across two runs in the second to cut its deficit to four runs, 7-3. Junior Brian Smiley scored from third on a Memphis fielding error, before junior Brian Asbill made it a 7-3 contest with a run-scoring single to center.
Trailing 8-3, UALR pulled within three runs, 8-5, by manufacturing a pair of runs in the third. Junior Brett Lawler plated the team’s first run with a base knock, before junior Matt King scored off a RBI groundout by senior Matt Garlington.
The Trojans went quietly until the final two frames. UALR threatened in the top of the eighth, but wound up stranding a pair of runners in scoring position. However, a leadoff double by Stover, who went 4-for-5 on the day, gave UALR life in the ninth. The Salt Lake City, Utah-native moved up to third on a wild pitch by Matt Yokley, then scored on a Memphis fielding error. But the Trojans were unable to get any closer, as Yokley picked up his first save of the year.
Marcus Davis (1-1) got the win for Memphis by throwing 4.1 scoreless innings in relief of starter Lance Scoggins. The Tigers were led offensively by three hits from Moss, and three RBI by Lieberman.
UALR returns to action this weekend with a three-game series against Arkansas State in Jonesboro. The first game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday.