Torres Homer Sends Raiders to 5-4 Loss

Campbell collects three of team's 12 hits in defeat

April 6, 2007 · MT Media Relations
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Osvaldo Torres hit a solo homer to dead centerfield in the bottom of the eighth and Mike Rogers tossed two shutout innings of relief to get the victory, as Arkansas-Little Rock defeated Middle Tennessee, 5-4, Friday night at Gary Hogan Field in the opener of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series.

Middle Tennessee (17-17, 8-5 Sun Belt) had an early 2-0 lead, but the homestanding Trojans (12-18, 2-7) tied the contest in the second and scored a pair of unearned runs in the sixth. The Blue Raiders had the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh and failed to score, but kept battling and tied the contest with two runs in the eighth.

Torres then hit a hanging breaking ball on a pitch over the 16-foot wall in dead center, which measures 400 feet from home plate, for the game-winning run. Middle Tennessee got a one-out single from Matt Ray in the ninth, but Adam Warren and Wayne Kendrick both grounded out to end the contest.

Matt Campbell collected three of the team's 12 hits and is now 14-for-26 over his last six games, while Kendrick and Zach Barrett each recorded two hits and Justin Humphrey drove in a pair of runs. The Blue Raiders have won all four of their conference series so far this season, including the last three after losing on Friday night. Sophomore Rawley Bishop also went 0-for-4 in the game, ending his 21-game hitting streak.

Middle Tennessee starter Matt Scott (2-4) took the loss, giving up just three earned runs in 7.2 innings of work. Scott walked two and struck out five, giving up eight hits.

UALR starter David Klumpp was very good from the start, allowing nine hits but only three earned runs, walking one and striking out five in seven-plus innings. Rogers (2-4) came on and gave up three hits in three innings of work, striking out two.

"The best-playing team won tonight," head coach Steve Peterson said. "Their starter [Klumpp] did a good job changing speeds and we hit a lot of ground balls, especially early, and he didn't make any mistakes up in the strike zone. Matt Scott really battled and pitched better at the end of the game, but their guy hit a hanging breaking ball out of the deepest part of the park."

The Trojans scored once in the first to take an early lead, with leadoff hitter Ryan Gotcher blooping a double just inside the leftfield line. He moved to third on a groundout from Brett Lawler and scored when Brian Asbill lined out to rightfield.

But the Blue Raiders came right back with two runs in the second, one thanks to a Trojan error.

Campbell fisted a single into center to leadoff and Myles Ervin hit a slow grounder to third baseman Matt King, whose throw to second pulled Nick DeSanctis off the bag. Barrett followed with a sacrifice bunt before Humphrey singled through the middle, scoring both runs for a 2-1 Blue Raider advantage.

But the lead didn't last long, as designated hitter Nathan Parker, who had just 11 at-bats all season coming into the game, lifted a fly ball just over the wall down the rightfield line to leadoff the bottom of the second, tying the contest at two.

The Trojans threatened again in the third after a leadoff double from Lawler high off the 16-foot wall in rightcenter. Asbill flied out to right, moving Lawler to third, but King popped out before Robert Taylor's grounder up the middle was fielded nicely by Kendrick, who made the throw to first to end the inning.

Torres walked with one out in the UALR fourth and moved to second on a groundout. With two outs Tyler Mason lifted a high pop down the rightfield line in no man's land, but again Kendrick made a nice play to end the inning, running it down halfway down the line just in fair territory, keeping the contest tied at two.

A pair of Middle Tennessee miscues led to two UALR runs in the sixth. King reached on a throwing error by shortstop Matt Ray to leadoff the inning. Taylor's sacrifice bunt was a good one and Scott overthrew Kendrick at first and ball sailed into rightfield, putting runners on second and third with no one out.

Parker's groundout plated King, but Scott struck out Torres and the Blue Raiders looked like they might get out of the jam with just one run scoring. But DeSanctis lined a soft single into short left, his second hit of the game, plating Taylor for a 4-2 Trojans lead.

Middle Tennessee had a chance to score in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs. Campbell doubled to leadoff, Ervin walked and Barrett singled to center, but Humphrey and Robertson both struck out before Ray lined out to right to Torres, who was playing shallow and made the catch running back toward the wall.

The Blue Raiders finally got on the board again in the eighth after Warren singled to leadoff and stole second. Kendrick then laced a triple just inside the first base bag, making it a one-run game. Bishop smoked a ball to first that Lawler made a nice play on, but Campbell picked him up, reaching out and singling to left for his third hit of the contest, tying the game at four.

Ervin followed with a single but Barrett struck out. Pinch-hitter Grant Box's grounder up the middle looked like it might get through, but shortstop Asbill made a nice play, fielding the ball and stepping on the bag to end the inning.

Scott recorded the first out of the eighth before Torres hit his fifth home run of the season for the game-winner.

In the Middle Tennessee ninth, Ray ripped a ball off the wall in rightfield, but it was hit so hard and played so well by Torres, Ray was held to a single. Warren then bounced out to short and Kendrick grounded out to second to end the game.

The two teams play again Saturday at 2 p.m., with the Blue Raiders sending junior Brad Robinson (3-0, 2.97) to the mound against UALR's Ashur Tolliver (3-2, 4.57).

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.