CONWAY, AR – Hayden Arnold confounded Central Arkansas all evening and early run support was enough to propel Little Rock to the 5-1 victory at Bear Stadium in Conway.
The victory improves the Trojans to 5-12 on the season as Little Rock wins for the second-straight year in Conway, winning the first matchup of the three-game Governor’s I-40 Showdown.
Arnold went seven innings for the Trojans, scattering four Bear hits as he struck out a career-high nine batters on 90 pitches to pick up his second win of the season. He retired 12-straight Bears from the second through sixth innings as UCA didn’t get a runner in scoring position until the seventh. But three-straight outs for Arnold, including his final two strikeouts, ended the threat.
Little Rock provided all the run support he would need early, scoring all five runs in the first four innings. The Trojans led off the game with an RBI ground out from Riley Pittman in the first to score Christian Reyes, then added another run in the second off a sacrifice bunt from Eldrige Figueroa to score Troy Alexander.
The Trojans added another run in the third off a fielding error by the Bears which allowed Ryan Benavidez to score and make it 3-0 after three.  Little Rock added two more in the fourth, beginning with James Gann’s third home run of the year to lead off the inning and a Benavidez single to score Figueroa to up Little Rock’s lead to 5-0.
That lead would be enough as the Trojan bats went cold over the final four innings with UCA retiring 15 of the final 16 Little Rock batters with the lone base runner coming when Figueroa was hit by a pitch in the seventh.
But the Trojan pitching made sure the five runs were enough as Donavin Buck came on to pitch the final two innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts. The Bears plated their lone run with two outs in the ninth, scoring on a throwing error from Alexander as Buck’s lone run was unearned.
Little Rock managed six hits on the night, two of which came from both Benavidez and Gann who each had an RBI and a run scored. Reyes and Alexander notched the other two hits for the Trojans as Little Rock struck out six times on the night.
Little Rock now turns its attention to Sun Belt Conference play, opening its conference schedule this weekend at Gary Hogan Field against reigning West Division champion Louisiana. The Trojans and Ragin’ Cajuns will play three, beginning with game one Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch.