Baseball takes series
The baseball team defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 11-6 on Sunday, April 3, in Sun Belt Conference action at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock. The Trojans took the series after losing Friday’s game 14-3, but bounced back on Saturday, winning 8-2.
“They got us pretty good on Friday night,” hitting coach Jeremy Haworth said. “I have to commend the guys on coming back from the loss [and] taking the series on Saturday and Sunday.”
Senior Calvin Drinnen (3-2, 4.76 ERA) started for the Trojans and picked up the win on Sunday. He pitched six and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on five hits, and striking out three.
The Trojans (14-15, 4-5 SBC) scored four runs in the first inning with help from two Western Kentucky errors. Junior catcher Nick Rountree hit his team leading fourth homerun of the season in the bottom of the second inning. The two-run shot put the Trojans up 6-0.
The Hilltoppers (17-11, 6-3) got a 2-4, four-RBI effort from senior catcher Matt Rice on Sunday. He hit two homeruns in the game and went 5-12 in the series, scoring seven runs.
For the second game in a row, the Trojans had three players with three hits, out-hitting WKU 14-7. Senior Casey McCollum went 3-5 and junior Sean Bignall went 3-4. After striking out five times on Friday and Saturday, senior second baseman Jason Houston went 3-3 and scored four runs, while hitting his first homerun of the season.
“I think on Saturday he kind of got out of his approach,” Haworth said about Houston. “When he got into a hitter’s count, he wasn’t swinging. On Sunday, he took advantage of laying off off-speed [pitches] and just looking for that fastball. His success was having good at-bats.”
The Trojans used three different leadoff hitters during the series, who went a combined 1-11, scoring just one run, but knocking in three RBIs.
“The leadoff role is so important because that guy sets the tone for how the game is going to start,” Haworth said. “I think coach Norwood is trying to get our best hitters at the top of the lineup.”
UALR moved up the ratings percentage index ladder after its series win. The Trojans have and RPI of 87 out of 300 teams, improving more than 30 spots before the WKU series. RPI is based on a team’s winning percentage and strength of schedule. The lower the RPI, the better the rating.
The Trojans have three players hitting over .300, led by Houston’s .350 average. Junior shortstop Greg Garcia is second at .333 and Rountree is hitting .305 to take third. Sophomore catcher Myles Parma is hitting .452, but doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify.
The Trojans will continue SBC action this weekend at home, hosting the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-18, 2-7) at Gary Hogan Field.