LITTLE ROCK - FIU starter Tyler Alexander struck out 13 batters and the Panther offense put up 12 runs on 16 hits, as FIU (24-26, 12-13 SBC) took game one of its series against UALR (25-24, 10-15 SBC) by a 12-3 final on Friday at Gary Hogan Field. Holding a 5-3 lead after seven innings, FIU exploded for six runs in the top of the eighth inning to put the game out of reach.
Senior Chance Cleveland was tagged with the loss to drop to 5-8 on the season. Cleveland surrendered five runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings and failed to register a strikeout for the first time in his UALR career. Alexander worked just 5.1 innings, but registered 13 strikeouts and allowed three runs on three hits to improve to 4-6 on the year.
FIU's offense was led by leadoff man Tyler Hibbert, who finished the night 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored. Aramis Garcia collected four hits and drove in five runs, while Josh Anderson was 2-for-5 with three RBI. In all, five different FIU players finished the night with multiple hits.
Junior Kaleb Jobe went 2-for-4 with a run scored to finish the game as the only Trojan with more than one hit. Junior Austin Pfeiffer drove in all three of UALR's runs on a three-run homer that tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Junior Bryson Thionnet collected one hit and scored a run.
FIU was able to build a quick 1-0 lead thanks to a couple of walks and a base hit in the top of the first. After Cleveland issued walks to Hibbert and Zach Sweety, Garcia singled to load the bases and Edwin Rios drove in the game's first run on a sacrifice fly to right.
The Panthers added another run on an RBI single by Sweety in the top of the third, then went up 3-0 on an RBI double by Garcia in the top of the fifth. Pfeiffer's three-run bomb evened the score in the bottom half of the frame, but a scoreless seventh was followed by the Panthers plating six runs in the top of the eighth. FIU put up five hits and were helped by one UALR error in their eight-run inning.
FIU added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to reach the game's 12-3 final score.
UALR and FIU will play game two of their series on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Gary Hogan Field. Approximately 20 minutes before first pitch, UALR will honor its nine seniors in a pregame ceremony.
Patrick Newton: Assistant Sports Information Director