LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas-Little Rock hit three doubles in the first inning — scoring three runs — as UALR jumped out to an early lead and eventually defeating the Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball team 9-3 Wednesday at Gary Hogan Field.
“Our top of the lineup, when it gets going, they are pretty good,” UALR head coach Scott Norwood said. “We had done a good job, up until about last week, of jumping on people in the first inning.
“When those guys get going, it makes our offense pretty lethal.”
After Ben Crumpton led off the inning with single, Austin Pfeiffer and Tanner Rockwell hit back-to-back doubles to give UALR (9-5) a 2-0 lead with nobody out.
With one out, Bryson Thionnet hit a double to plate Rockwell and the 3-0 lead. UAPB got out of the inning on a pair of groundouts.
“Dixon (Marble) came out and left some pitches up,” UAPB head coach Carlos James said. “All the hits were legitimate, nothing was were we could have caught it.
“You just have to tip your hat to UALR.”
Pfeiffer, a Benton native, finished the day 3 for 4 with three runs and an RBI. Rockwell was 2 for 5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Thionnet was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and a run.
Marble is tagged with the loss for UAPB (4-11). He lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (all earned) on nine hits with one walk and no strikeouts.
“Dixon he left balls up and I told them, ‘You can’t start out in the hole like that’,” James said. “Especially when you are on the road.
“It is hard to catch up.”
UALR is coming off a three-game sweep by Ole Miss and will start Sun Belt Conference play this weekend when it travels to face in-state rival Arkansas State.
The Trojans used eight pitchers in the game against the Lions. Starter Ethan Schlechte is credited with the win after pitching three hitless innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
“He is a weekend guy who has just struggled in two of his last three outings,” Norwood said. “He was really good, he was really special. You could tell he could be a really good one.”
UALR scored two more runs in the third thanks to a two-run home run by Little Rock native Sam Vogel. It gave the Trojans a 5-0 lead. They extended it to 6-0 with a run in the fourth.
UAPB finally got on the board in the fifth inning thanks to a two-run single by Rashawn Tillman. It trimmed the lead to 6-2.
Jerimiah Figueroa and Jordan Haas led off the inning with a pair of walks. After a groundout moved both runners up a bag, Tillman hit a single up the middle to plate both runners.
Tillman stole second on the next pitch and later he even tried to swipe third as well but was called out.
“The steal (to third) was all him,” James said. “He was just trying to make something happen.
“He actually had the bag stolen, the guy just missed the call to be honest with you.”
James — who was thrown out of the game in the bottom of the eighth — said he wasn’t upset with Tillman for trying to take the extra bag.
“It was all hustle,” James said. “But he was already in scoring position. At that point, if we get another base hit, its 6-4.
“Then the game totally changes.”
Tillman finished the game 1 for 3 with two RBIs and a walk.
UAPB cut the deficit to 6-3 thanks to a RBI single by Mitch Bruckshaw in the top of the seventh inning.
“It is fun to play and it is fun to beat each other’s brains out,” Norwood said. “It shows that it is good to play people in-state.
“I don’t understand why more people don’t do it.”
UALR added three more runs in the top of the eighth inning to secure the win.
UAPB used four pitchers in Tuesday’s loss including relief pitcher Felix Baez Pool who finished with three innings, allowing one run (earned) on one hit with two strikeouts and three walks.
“That is what we expected out of him when he first got here,” James said. “He threw the ball well.
“Hopefully we can get him to be that fourth starter. If he can pitch like I think he can, we are going to be real tough on the weekend.”
UAPB, who swept Southern last weekend, returns to conference play this weekend when the Lions host Grambling State beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex.