University of Arkansas at Little Rock Coach Chris Curry said he believes the final two weeks of the Trojans' schedule can only help his team before it plays in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament next week.
The Trojans (25-26, 15-11) won two of three against Sun Belt West Division leader Texas State in a series Friday-Sunday at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock.
UALR AT ARKANSAS STATE
WHEN 6:30 p.m.
WHERE Tomlinson Stadium, Jonesboro
RECORDS UALR 25-26, 15-11 Sun Belt Conference; ASU 26-26, 11-16
Then, the Trojans defeated the University of Central Arkansas 5-1 on Tuesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. At 6:30 p.m. today, they'll begin a three-game series at Arkansas State University (26-26, 11-17) in Jonesboro. The final two games of the series are at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
Playing the Sun Belt's top team and two in-state rivals over the final two weeks of the regular season was as big a motivating factor as any for the Trojans late in the season.
"We wanted to create a big-game atmosphere down the stretch," Curry said. "Having the No. 1 team at our place was a big-game atmosphere for three games. [UCA] is a big game atmosphere. The weekend [at ASU] is a big game atmosphere."
UALR junior left-hander Chandler Fidel will start tonight for the Trojans.
Fidel (5-4, 3.86 ERA) had his best start of the season Friday against Texas State. He tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts and allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in 9 innings, but took a no-decision in a 4-3 Trojans' victory in 10 innings.
"I don't know where we are as a program without Chandler," Curry said. "He's been a weekend starter since the first day he stepped on the mound. He's only gotten better and he's improved. [Assistant] Coach [R.D.] Spiehs has tweaked some things with him.
"Chandler works his tail off. He loves the game. He needs to get a shot to play professional baseball because of his breaking ball. We feel like that guy is going to give us a chance to win for nine innings. That's our guy. Any baseball team plays a little better when their guy is on the bump."
UALR is in third place in the West Division behind Texas State and Texas-Arlington. ASU, which upset No. 16 Mississippi 6-5 on Tuesday night, is in last place in the West and would miss the 10-team tournament if it started today.
The Sun Belt Tournament begins Tuesday in Conway, S.C., with the league's No. 7 through No. 10 seeds playing in elimination games.
Curry hopes his team can continue playing well, as they've won four of their past five games.
"Throw out the records in rivalry week," Curry said. "[ASU] Coach [Tommy] Raffo has always got his teams playing well down the stretch. They're in position where they can position themselves well.
"If you don't play well in Jonesboro, you're going to get beat real quick."
Sports on 05/16/2019
Print Headline: Big games a factor to motivate UALR