Blue Raiders sweep Trojans
The Blue Raiders baseball team picked up the three-game sweep of Arkansas-Little Rock Sunday at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
Ryan Ford’s single in the bottom of the ninth inning sealed a 4-3 come-from-behind victory for MT. The squad also picked up a 4-0 win on Friday and clinched the series with a 7-6 triumph on Saturday.
On Sunday, MT fought nearly the entire contest to overcome what was a three-run deficit after the top of the second inning.
“I give my respect to UALR,” Coach Steve Peterson said. “I’m not going to say we played our best game, and I’m sure [UALR] Coach [Scott] Norwood would probably say they didn’t play their best game because there were missed opportunities offensively just to move runners and just play situation baseball.”
The teams collected nine hits apiece, but left a combined 17 runners on base.
Daniel Palo picked up the win on the mound for MT (20-12, 8-4 Sun Belt), despite having to pitch only one out in the ninth.
Jonathan Cisco made the start and pitched six innings, scattering eight hits, walking four and struggling early, but finishing with six strikeouts.
“The great thing about Cisco is how he battles,” Peterson said. “He’s a very competitive person, and he didn’t have good stuff in the beginning, but he battled it and the next thing you know he’s pitching in the sixth, and that gave our bullpen a chance.”
Joey McClung, Paul Mittura and Cody Tollison pitched a combined three and one third innings after Cisco left and before Palo recorded the final out, giving up one hit and surrendering no runs.
Marshal Hamrick took the loss for UALR (16-16, 3-9 Sun Belt), taking the mound in the ninth inning and recording two outs but placing the winning run on base.
Blake Huffman got the start, pitching six innings, giving up three runs on four hits, striking out six and walking two.
Bubba Cooper pitched one and two thirds innings of relief, while Bryson Thionnet gave up Ford’s winning single in the ninth.
Ford collected two hits and batted in two runs, while Justin Guidry racked up two hits and an RBI. Robert Lawrence and Ethan Williams, who returned from hamstring and knee injuries, also got two hits.
MT fell behind early as UALR’s Cameron Bentley hit a standup double on Cisco’s first pitch before Miles Parma singled to move him to third.
Two batters later, Cisco walked Nick Rountree to load the bases, and Blake Johnson’s double down the left-field line send Bentley and Parma home, but Rountree was outed at home for the second out of the inning, and Cisco ended the frame by striking out the next batter.
Johnson and Bentley were the only two Trojans to collect multiple hits in the contest, collecting three and two, respectively.
UALR added another run in the second after Ben Crumpton walked, stole second and used another Bentley hit to score.
Held hitless and off the basepaths for the first two innings, the Blue Raiders replied in the third.
Eight batters came up in the frame, beginning with Ryan Stephens, who singled and went to second on a Lawrence walk. Dain McNabb sacrificed to advance the runners, and Ryan Ford singled to plate Stephens.
Ford reached second and Lawrence scored on a Justin Guidry grounder. Ford was subsequently thrown out trying to go home on a Johnny Thomas fielder’s choice that Sent Guidry to third, where he would score on a wild pitch to tie the game.
Both offenses threatened at times, and MT collected leadoff hits in the fifth and seventh, but the score would remained tied until the ninth.
Williams got it started, collecting his second hit of the game, singling to right, putting Dalton Henzman on base to pinch run for him.
Stevens sacrificed Henzman to second before Lawrence was intentionally walked.
Matt Drake, pinch hitting for McNabb, loaded the bases for Ford on a fielder’s choice, and Ford, denied his own opportunity to score in the third inning, made good for Henzman, sending him home with a single threw the left side to end the contest.
“I went up there without a prayer, just see it and hit it,” Ford said. “He threw a first-pitch slider, and I just threw my hands at it.”
MT picked up a fifth-straight win and the third conference-series victory on the season.
The team will travel to Clarksville on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. contest against Austin Peay.