Cooper Van Kooten got win in relief appearance.
FORT SMITH, Ark. – One big inning was all UAFS needed on Saturday afternoon against the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats.
The Lions erupted for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit and beat the Bearcats 5-2 in the opening game of a three-day, three-game baseball series at Crowder Field.
UAFS (1-0) will play Northwest Missouri State at 1 p.m. on Sunday and will finish the season-opening series at 3 p.m. on Monday.
Trailing 2-0, the Lions finally rattled Bearcats starter Joseph Hietpas in the bottom of the sixth inning. Hietpas got catcher Dylan Hurt to ground out to shortstop to start the inning, but third baseman Brandan Warner drew a walk and stole second, right fielder Logan Allen reached on a fielders’ choice and designated hitter Anthony Seminaris singled through the left side to load the bases.
That ended the afternoon for Hietpas, who was relieved by Jacob Wagner. Wagner uncorked a wild pitch that allowed all the runners to move up and Warner to score. Left fielder Dion Williams then singled through the right side, driving in Allen and Seminaris. Williams, who advanced to second on the throw, scored on a single through the right side by first baseman Kyle Love to give the Lions a 4-2 lead.
Wagner finally got out of the inning, getting center fielder Jace Pitchford to pop up to second and shortstop Troy Cahill to ground out to the pitcher’s mound.
UAFS added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh when Hurt singled with one out and stole home on a double steal.
The Lions collected seven hits in all off two of the three Bearcats pitchers. Hietpas (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing three earned runs on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
Allen was 2 for 4, Hurt was 2 for 3, Williams was 1 for 4 with two RBIs, Love was 1 for 4 with one RBI and Seminaris was 1 for 3.
Lions starter Zach Burch earned a no-decision in his UAFS debut, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Reliever Cooper Van Kooten, also making his Lions debut, earned the win, allowing two hits with two strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings.
Closer Ryan McCutcheon walked one and struck out two to earn the save.
Right fielder Luke Hassman was 1 for 4 with a double and one RBI, catcher Alixon Herrera was 1 for 4 with one RBI to lead the Bearcats (0-1), who left seven runners on base.