Jonesboro (ASU) - Arkansas-Little Rock used a two-run home run from designated hitter Jake Rowell in the opening inning to take an early 2-0 lead, and the Trojans (28-24, 11-15) went on to defeat the Arkansas State Red Wolves 6-3 Thursday night at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
Arkansas State answered in the bottom of the first with an RBI single from first baseman Murray Watts that cut the Trojan lead in half, but UALR scored twice in the second and twice in the fourth to go up 6-1 before the Red Wolves (27-25, 15-13) could plate another run.
"You've got to give credit to UALR, they jumped us pretty good with six runs in the first four innings," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "From an offensive standpoint, that can be difficult against a Friday night guy like (Adam) Champion. His stats and numbers are very good in Sun Belt play this year."
"I did think we had some good at-bats tonight, we hit some balls hard all over the park that were caught," added Raffo. "UALR just made some nice plays. We had some opportunities, we just didn't get that one extra hit. I will take that approach, from an offensive standpoint. We just have to continue that this weekend because you can't dictate hits, but you can dictate approach."
UALR used a two-run single from shortstop Brock Feldman in the second, and a pair of unearned runs in the fourth to go up 6-0 before ASU center fielder Michael Faulkner's single up the middle in the fifth drove in a run to cut the Trojan lead to 6-2. Faulkner doubled in the eighth and scored on a base hit from left fielder Todd Baumgartner to pull ASU within 6-3, and the Red Wolves managed to get the tying run to the plate later in the inning, but could not get another run home.
Champion picked up the win for UALR to improve to 7-4 on the season, giving up three runs on nine hits in seven and two-thirds innings. He walked two batters and struck out one. J.R. Boling earned his eighth save, working the final two-thirds of an inning without allowing a hit or a run.
Junior Andy Ferguson took the loss for Arkansas State. Ferguson gave up six runs on 10 hits in five innings of work, striking out two and walking one along the way.
Faulkner was 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead ASU at the plate, while catcher Wilson Landis went 3-for-4 to lead UALR.
With the win, the Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the final Sun Belt Conference series of the season. Arkansas State, which will advance to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament next week in Murfreesboro, Tenn., will try to even the series when the teams meet Friday at 6:00 p.m.