Big Offensive Day Powers UALR Past Bears, 10-6
April 30, 2014
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - UALR rode an early offensive outburst to build a seven-run lead over Missouri State, then withstood the Bears' late push to notch a 10-6 victory Wednesday at Gary Hogan Field. Drew Merten homered, scored three runs and drove in three more to help the Trojans post the top run total by a Bears' opponent this season.
UALR (20-24) took control of the game on Merten's two-run homer in the second, then batted around in the fourth to stretch its lead to 7-0. Merten, who went 3-for-4 on the afternoon to pace the Trojans' 11-hit attack, lofted his second long ball of the season over the short porch in right field with one aboard and one out in the second off MSU starter Tayler Ross (0-1) to stake his club to the early cushion.
The UALR catcher struck again in the fourth, driving a run-scoring single into left field as part of the Trojans' five-run rally. Bryson Thionnet's bunt single got the ball rolling before a throwing error by Ross on a failed pickoff attempt set up Merten's base hit that made it a 3-0 game. After a fly ball to right for the second out, Sam Vogel started a string of four consecutive Trojan hits that would blow the game wide open. Drew McCurry singled home Merten, and Austin Pfeiffer's base hit to center plated two more runs. Finally, Tanner Rockwell's double and another MSU error brought in the final UALR tally that pushed the margin to seven.
MSU rebounded in the fifth, striking for three runs on three hits against UALR starter Chad Bradford. Alex Jefferson singled to start the rally, swiped second for his first steal as a Bear and came home on Dylan Becker's two-out RBI single. Tate Matheny delivered the big blow with two-run double off the wall in right to cut the Bears' deficit to 7-3.
But the Trojans answered in the home half of the fifth when Vogel blasted a three-run homer to left-center with two men out.
The Bears appeared poised to break through with a big inning in the seventh when Joey Hawkins' leadoff single sparked a surge that saw the first four MSU hitters reach base. Blake Graham added a base hit before Becker walked and Matheny brought in a run with a long single to right-center. But Chase Rousseau coaxed a double-play ball off the bat of Eric Cheray, then extinguished the rally altogether with a bouncer to short from Tyler Harris.
From that point, Bears relievers Zach Merciez and Jake Powers combined to hold the Trojans' offense in check with 3.1 hitless innings, but once again MSU struggled to come up with the clutch hits it needed. The Bears would strand a pair baserunners in scoring position over the final two innings, despite Cheray's run-scoring single in the ninth that pulled MSU to within four runs.
Bradford (3-1) earned the win for UALR, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks over 5.0 innings. The Trojan bullpen kept the Bears at bay, surrendering three runs on six hits over the final four frames.
In addition to Merten's big day at the dish, Vogel came through with a 2-for-3 effort, scoring twice and driving in three runs.
Matheny led the Bears with a pair of hits, two steals and three RBIs in three official at-bats, and Becker (2-for-3, 2 walks) reached base in four of his five trips to the plate, adding a pair of stolen bases as well. MSU, which entered the game with just five steals in its last 13 contests, swiped a season-high five bags against the Trojans.
Next, the Bears (19-22) resume MVC play with a three-game set at Dallas Baptist, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. contest Friday (May 2).