LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Missouri State (9-8) scored 11 runs over the fifth and sixth innings and used a grand slam from Nolan Keane to overcome an early 6-0 deficit and defeat the UALR baseball team 11-7 on Monday night at Gary Hogan Field.
Keane went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and five RBI, while Austin Todd worked 4.1 innings of solid relief to even his record at 1-1. Juniors Robert Taylor and Osvaldo Torres led the Trojans with two RBI a piece in the loss.
Down 6-0 at the start of the fifth, the Bears took advantage of two UALR errors to tie the game at 6-all. Brayden Drake reached on an error at third to start the inning, and Missouri State quickly loaded the bases with no outs off back-to-back singles by Matt Lawson and Ryan Mantle. Clay Coulter put Missouri State on the board with a two-run single through the right side.
Junior Nathan Parker came on in relief of starter Levi Laughlin at that point, but another error at third helped Missouri State keep its rally alive. The Bears pulled within two, 6-4, off a run-scoring single by Keane and a RBI groundout by Kyle Paul. Ben Carlson then tied the game at 6-all with a two-out, two-run double down the leftfield line.
The sixth inning was just as eventful, as Missouri State scored five runs to go on top for good. With the bases loaded and one out, Ben Woodbury was awarded first on a catcher’s interference call. Mantle scored from third to give the Bears a 7-6 lead. Junior Mike Rogers took the mound in relief of junior Derik Drewett to face Keane, but the junior outfielder ripped a grand slam over the right field fence on the first pitch he faced to make it an 11-6 contest.
The Trojans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Torres ripped a two-run single to right. Junior Nick DeSanctis was hit by a pitch to start the frame, and junior Brett Lawler followed with a single to right. Missouri State was unable to field Lawler’s single cleanly, allowing the runners to advance to second and third with no outs. Torres plated both moments later with his base knock to right.
UALR manufactured four more runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-0 lead. Senior Brian Smiley led off the inning with a single, and quickly moved up to third on a groundout and a wild pitch. With Smiley on at third, senior Brian Asbill singled up the middle to make it a 3-0 contest. Senior Matt King drew a walk to put two runners on, and Taylor extended the Trojans’ lead to five runs, by plating both runners with a two-run double down the leftfield line. Taylor capped off the four-run rally when he scored from second on a throwing error by shortstop Curt Courtwright.
Todd allowed just two hits and one run over 4.1 innings in relief of starter Pat Doyle. Reliever Matt Frevert closed out the game with 1.2 scoreless innings. Laughlin got the start for UALR and opened the game with four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. His final line featured four hits and four runs, though only one was earned.
UALR returns to action this weekend when it hosts New Orleans in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m.