Little Rock Wins Sun Belt Tournament Opener

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CONWAY, SC – Ramon Padilla’s eighth-inning two-out base hit gave the Trojans the late win in their 6-5 victory over Troy in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Wednesday morning at Springs Brooks Stadium.
 
Little Rock improves to 29-26 overall (18-11 Sun Belt) while Troy falls to 29-28 (16-14 Sun Belt).

“I think that game was a picture of our season,” said Head Coach Chris Curry. “Troy did what I expected them to do and that was respond. I couldn’t be more proud of [Nathan] Lyons. We’re confident that something good is about to happen, we’re confident in each other and we understand what it’s about. We’re confident that when we hand the ball to Buck, we’re going to win a close game.”
 
Chandler Fidel got the nod for the Wednesday’s contest and gave a quality outing for Little Rock, throwing 6.1 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out five. Donavin Buck earned the win after his two scoreless innings in relief would cap off the victory for the Trojans. The senior struck out three of the seven batters he faced.
 
Troy Alexander and Nathan Lyons each enjoyed 2-for-4 days at the plate as the only Trojans to record multi-hit days at the plate.
 
After a clean first inning for Fidel, the Trojans quickly got to work at the plate. Riley Pittman worked a 3-2 count and then blasted a no-doubt home run to right field to give Little Rock a 1-0 lead. This was the senior’s 14th homer of the season.
 
The Trojans kept things going in the second as Alexander led off the inning with a solid line drive to center field. The left fielder swiped second base before Padilla drew a walk. Freshman Nathan Lyons stepped to the plate in his first postseason at-bat as a Trojan and drove Alexander home with a solid base hit over the shortstop’s head to double Little Rock’s lead. Christian Reyes put together a gritty eight-pitch at-bat and eventually brought Padilla across while reaching on a fielder’s choice. At the end of two innings, the Trojans would lead 3-0.
 
The bats went quite in the third and fourth frames before Troy finally got on the board with a solo home run to cut the deficit to 3-1.
 
Little Rock answered back in the bottom half of the fifth as Eldrige Figueroa led off with a ground ball that hit first base and trickled into right field. Reyes bunted him over to second before Ryan Benavidez slapped a single that got by the right fielder and rolled all the way to the wall, allowing the right fielder to advance to third base. Pittman continued to wreak havoc at the plate as his hard-hit ground ball was too hot to handle for the Troy first baseman, scoring Benavidez from third to make the score 5-1.
 
Troy answered in the top of the sixth by tacking on one run to make it a three-run ball game.
 
Fidel was relieved by Dillon Delgadillo with one out in the seventh after tossing 6.1 innings in his 111-pitch performance. A three-run home run from Troy would tie the game at 5-5 in the top half of the seventh.
 
Donavin Buck came on to pitch the eighth and recorded two strikeouts in his first inning of work to preserve the tie game.
 
With two outs in the ninth, Padilla came up clutch and delivered a base hit to score pinch runner Miguel Soto from second base to give his team a 6-5 advantage.
 
Buck finished his outing by throwing a scoreless ninth inning to clinch the win and send Little Rock to the next round.
 
Little Rock advances to the next round where they will meet the winner of Georgia Southern and Louisiana tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET.

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