LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - UALR starting pitcher Chance Cleveland tossed a complete-game shutout on Friday at Gary Hogan Field, allowing just three hits in nine innings, striking out 10 to lead the Trojans to a 5-0 Sun Belt Conference win over the WKU baseball team in game one of the three-game series.
Cleveland, the Preseason Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, tossed his fourth complete game of the season on Friday, tying a season-low with just three hits allowed. The three hits were a season-low for the Hilltoppers, and marked the first time since 1994 that the Hilltoppers have been shut out by UALR.
WKU would have its best chances of the night against Cleveland in both the sixth and seventh innings, getting runners to second and third with two outs after a Ryan Huck double in the sixth, and getting Devin Kelly to second base with a lead-off double in the seventh. WKU would strand all runners, however, as a 6-4-3 double play would end the Hilltoppers’ threat in the seventh.
The Trojans would score two runs on four hits in the opening frame, as four of the first five batters of the game reached with singles, including RBI-singles from John Clark and Chris Burk. After the single from Burk, WKU starting pitcher Tanner Perkins would settle in and not allow another hit until the fifth inning, allowing just a pair of walks during that span.
In the fifth, UALR would once again string together consecutive hits, hitting safely in four-straight at-bats, capped off by an RBI-single from John Clark. Clark would finish his night 3-for-4 with two RBI. Clark and fellow teammate Chris Burk would go a combined 6-for-8 on the night.
The Trojans would then put together three consecutive singles in the seventh inning, scoring a pair of runs to up the lead to 5-0 through seven. Of UALR’s 11 hits on the night, 10 would be singles.
Hilltopper starting pitcher Tanner Perkins tied a season-high tossing 6.1 innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits, striking out six batters. The six punchouts marked the third time this season Perkins has struck out six or more in a game.
Hilltopper relievers Brennan Pearson and Alex Mercer would work 1.2 innings in relief, with Mercer striking out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth inning. The Louisville, Ky., freshman has now struck out 17 of the 50 batters he has faced in 2013.