The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans doubled their fun Friday night against the nationally ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
The Trojans swept a doubleheader against the No. 25 Chanticleers, 8-5 and 14-0, at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock.
With Friday's victories, the Trojans (16-19) are tied for the Sun Belt West Division lead at 9-5 and won their third consecutive league series. They swept Georgia State on March 29-31, and won two of three at Texas-Arlington last weekend.
Coastal Carolina (23-13-1, 8-6 Sun Belt East Division) entered Friday with a league-high .304 batting average, but the Chanticleers were held to five runs in two games by the Trojans' pitching staff.
"Coastal is the No. 1 offense in the league, and we have that much respect for them and the job that they do," UALR Coach Chris Curry said. "It's such a dangerous offense. I couldn't be more proud of our pitching staff."
The Trojans' two starting pitchers -- left-hander Chandler Fidel (4-2) and right-hander Hayden Arnold (3-0) -- had a combined 17 strikeouts and didn't walk a batter in the doubleheader. Fidel struck out 10 and scattered 4 runs on 9 hits in 7⅓ innings in the first game, while Arnold -- who retired 17 in a row at one point -- pitched 7 shutout innings, fanning 7 and not allowing a run on 3 hits in the second game.
"They got the leadoff man out a lot," Curry said. "There were multiple shutdown innings where our pitchers would put up zero. I thought [assistant] coach [R.D.] Spiehs called an outstanding game, and he studied really hard."
UALR has defeated two nationally ranked programs during its recent hot streak -- No. 10 Arkansas on April 2 at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville and Coastal Carolina twice on Friday.
"I think we have that caliber of player," Curry said. "Our recruiters have done an outstanding job of getting those guys in here. The players have done an outstanding job of developing themselves.
"What you're starting to see is a mindset and confidence that they can play well with anybody. You're seeing a hard schedule early starting to pay off. We got kicked around a little bit. But we learned and we learned real quick. There's not a situation or a team they're intimidated by."
Coastal Carolina Coach Gary Gilmore was disappointed with his team's effort.
"Kudos to his men," Gilmore said of Curry. "They outplayed us. They out-efforted us. They were by far the better team. I have nothing else to say."
UALR designated hitter Riley Pittman finished 3 for 4 in the second game and drove in 4 runs, including a RBI single and a two-run base hit. Pittman also had a solo home run in the first game.
"Riley is so clutch right now, driving in the big runs," Curry said.
Right fielder Ryan Benavidez drove in six runs in the doubleheader, including a three-run triple in the second game.
In the second game, UALR took a 1-0 lead off Coastal Carolina starter Austin Kitchen (5-2) in the first inning on Pittman's sacrifice fly, then made it 4-0 in the third with Benavidez's RBI single and Pittman's two-run single. Pittman added a run-scoring single in the fifth inning for a 5-0 advantage. The Trojans added three runs in the sixth inning and six runs in the seventh to stretch the lead to 14-0.
The Trojans used a four-run first inning off Coastal Carolina starter Zach McCambley (4-2) to take a 4-1 lead in the first game with a RBI double from catcher Ramon Padilla, a sacrifice fly from left fielder Troy Alexander, and first baseman Nick Perez's run-scoring single.
Pittman hit his sixth home run of the season, this one on the first pitch of the third inning, to make it 5-1 Trojans.
Coastal Carolina pulled within 5-3 in the top of the fourth inning, but Benavidez's RBI single in the bottom of the inning stretched the Trojans' lead to 6-3.
The Trojans led 6-4 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, then extended their lead to 8-4 as center fielder Eldridge Figueroa and second baseman Chase Coker came home on a throwing error by Chanticleers second baseman Cory Wood.
UALR has an opportunity to sweep Coastal Carolina on Sunday. That game has been moved from 1 p.m. to 11 a.m. at Gary Hogan Field to help Coastal Carolina's traveling situation.
Curry isn't satisfied with just two victories.
"We're not done yet," he said. "I expect a real hard-fought game on Sunday."
Sports on 04/13/2019
Print Headline: UALR outclasses ranked league foe