JONESBORO -- A barrage of hits from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and its own undoing defensively eliminated Arkansas State University from playing in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Trojans recorded 17 hits and took advantage of five errors by the Red Wolves in an 8-0 victory Friday night at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field.
UALR (27-26, 17-11 Sun Belt), which has won six of its past seven games, had five players with more than one hit.
Right fielder Ryan Benavidez, third baseman Nick Perez and left fielder Troy Alexander all went 3 for 5 for the Trojans. Perez drove in three runs, while Alexander had two RBI. Designated hitter Riley Pittman and shortstop Christian Reyes each had two hits for UALR.
"They came into the park with a really good plan," UALR Coach Chris Curry said. "We jumped out early and never looked back."
With Friday's loss, ASU (26-28, 11-18) -- which started 8-2 in the Sun Belt -- was eliminated from the league tournament beginning Tuesday in Conway, S.C. It's the first time since 2009, ASU Coach Tommy Raffo's first season, that the Red Wolves won't be in the tournament.
"We didn't earn it," Raffo said. "We were very good in the first half of the season. The second half, we were poor. It wasn't as good as we wanted it to be. We were out of sync. Good pitching, no hitting. Hitting, maybe no pitching and fielding. It was out of sync for us in the second half."
Trojans right-hander Hayden Arnold (5-2) turned in his team's second consecutive solid outing in the series. After ace Chandler Fidel went 81/3 innings and struck out 9 in a no-decision Thursday, Arnold allowed 3 hits in 7 innings Friday. He threw 100 pitches, 63 for strikes, and struck out 2 while walking no one.
"He kept the ball down," Curry said. "We challenged him to work quickly and help his defense out. We made no errors tonight, which is important for us."
UALR took advantage of two ASU errors in the top of the second inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Perez led off with a base hit, then catcher Ramon Padilla reached on a throwing error by ASU second baseman Tyler Duncan. Two batters later, center fielder Eldrige Figueroa hit an RBI single to right field to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead, scoring Perez.
With Benavidez at the plate, Reyes was in a rundown between first and second, but Red Wolves first baseman Kyle MacDonald dropped the ball as he attempted to tag Reyes, allowing Padilla to come home for a 2-0 lead.
Perez's RBI single in the top of the third inning made it 3-0 Trojans.
The Trojans added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning to extend their lead to 5-0. Benavidez and first baseman James Gann each had base hits to chase ASU starter Zach Jackson, then reliever Zech Jarrard gave up an RBI double to Alexander to make it 4-0. Perez followed with a run-scoring single for a 5-0 advantage.
UALR stretched its lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning when MacDonald couldn't handle Alexander's groundball at first base, resulting in the Red Wolves' fourth error of the game. Benavidez and Pittman, who reached on one-out singles, respectively, scored on the play.
Then, third baseman Alex Howard was charged with ASU's fifth error as he couldn't come up with Perez's groundball, allowing Garrett Scott to score for an 8-0 advantage.
Jackson (6-5) allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 9 hits in 41/3 innings for the Red Wolves, who used six pitchers Friday night.
Duncan had two hits to lead ASU.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 2 (10)
Cole Coker hit an RBI single with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday to give Lamar (18-35, 9-20 Southland Conference) a victory over the University of Central Arkansas (28-25, 18-11) at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont, Texas.
Reese Durand struck out to start the 10th inning for the Cardinals, then Rhett McCall singled to right-center field on the first pitch he saw. Avery George reached on a fielder's choice as McCall was forced out, then advanced to second base when Cole Girouard walked on five pitches. Coker's game-winning single came on an 0-1 pitch.
The Bears took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Cole Fiori's sacrifice bunt scored Beau Orlando. Christian Brasher then hit a single with two outs to put runners at first and third, but Nathaniel Sagdahl flied out to center field to end the threat.
Lamar took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning on a two-out, two-run double to left-center field by Anthony Quirion. Central Arkansas tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the ninth when Bryce Dodd, who came in to pinch run for Tyler Smith after Smith drew a walk to start the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a two-base error by George.
The Bears were held to four hits, coming from Jay Anderson, Kolby Johnson, Brasher and Sagdahl. Gavin Stone (3-4, 1.88 ERA) took the loss after allowing 1 earned run on 2 hits with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts over 12/3 innings.
Sports on 05/18/2019
Print Headline: UALR keeps ASU out of tourney