LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The UALR baseball team (11-13, 1-4) rallied from an 8-1 deficit by plating nine runs in the bottom of the eighth to down New Orleans10-8 and pick up its first Sun Belt Conference win of the season. Senior Matt King hit a pair of homers in the bottom of the eighth, the last of which broke an 8-all tie and ended up being the game winner.
UNO (15-10, 4-4) hit four home runs, two of which came compliments of T.J. Baxter, to take a commanding 8-1 lead. After allowing a RBI single in the bottom of the first, Privateer starter Justin Garcia buckled down and retired 15 in-a-row before freshman Brad Swiderski led off the sixth with a single.
Garcia took the mound at the start of the eighth having allowed only one run and three hits over the first seven innings, but King opened the floodgates in the eighth with a leadoff homer to left center. UALR loaded the bases with one out on the board, and tacked on another run when a fielding error by Baxter allowed Swiderski to score from third.
Garcia remained in the game with the bases loaded and one out, and served up a two-run single to left field by junior Osvaldo Torres, making it an 8-5 contest. UNO stayed with Garcia, and senior Brian Asbill made the Privateers pay with a RBI base knock through the right side.
UNO finally went to the bullpen following Asbill’s single, calling on Matt Wagner (2-2) with runners on the corners and one out. The pitching change didn’t stop the rally, as junior Robert Taylor ripped a two-run double to center to tie the game at 8-all. King came to the plate again following Taylor’s double, and ripped a two-run bomb to left center to put the Trojans on top 10-8.
Freshman Gavin Gray (1-0) picked up the first win of his collegiate career by closing out the game with 2.0 scoreless innings. The El Dorado, Ark.-native retired all six batters he faced over the final two frames with three strikeouts. Wagner was credited with the loss after allowing two hits and two runs over 0.2 innings of work.
UNO hit four home runs off UALR starter Ashur Tolliver over the first seven innings to build its 8-1 lead. Baxter hit his first of two homers in the first inning (a solo shot) to give UNO a 1-0 lead. Johnny Giavotella followed with his eighth home run of the season in the top of the third, a two-run shot to left to give UNO a 4-1 lead.
Tyrone Wethers joined the hit parade with his first home run of the season in the top of the fifth, a solo shot which extended UNO’s lead to 5-1. Baxter struck again with a two-run shot to left in the top of the seventh (his eighth of the year) to put UNO ahead 8-1.
UALR finished with 11 hits in the game, seven of which came during their nine-run eighth inning. Senior Brett Lawler, Torres, King and Swiderski led the team with two hits a piece, while King drove in a team-high three runs. Baxter and Giavotella led the Privateers with three RBI a piece in the loss.
The two teams conclude their three-game series tomorrow afternoon at Gary Hogan Field at 1 p.m.