TULSA, Okla.- Little Rock played their first game of the season on Sunday, Feb. 21 against Oral Roberts University after their season was abruptly canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19. Graduate transfer Chris Prentiss started it out strong for the Trojans with a run in the first inning. They closed out the game with a 4-3 victory over ORU at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
After 347 days, Little Rock’s baseball team can finally start their season with a game against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, which was taken away last year due to the coronavirus. “I can’t really put words onto how much it means to play a game,” Senior pitcher Aaron Funk said. “Being back on the field like that was unreal, it was awesome.”
Funk had five straight innings of scoreless pitching, while only allowing one hit. Funk received Sun Belt’s Preseason Pitcher of the year, and he led last year’s league with 31.1 innings pitched while he was ranked 26th nationally with 37 strikeouts. In Sunday’s game, he had a total of five strikeouts in five innings.
The Trojans had a total of four runs, with Graduate Student and infielder Chris Prentiss scoring two of them. In the previous two seasons, he played at Jackson State University batting .322 as a senior in 15 games. Prentiss received First team All-SWAC selection his junior year while batting .381 with 61 hits.
ORU infielder Caleb Denny scored the first run for their team in the sixth inning to tie up the game. Denny also hit a home run in the eighth inning, trying to get his team back in the game, bringing the score up to 3-2 for the Trojans. The red shirt freshman received Summit League Preseason Freshman of the year and Perfect Game Preseason Summit League Freshman of the year in 2020.
Sophomore center fielder Tyler Williams hit a bunt in the top of the seventh inning to make ORU scrabble to get the ball to a base. This allowed for Canyon McWilliams to score, bringing the Trojans back in the lead. Williams had scouts looking at him nationally his freshman year, batting .220 with two doubles, a triple and a home run while also stealing four bases.
Eldridge Figueroa doubled in the ninth inning, allowing Nathan Lyons to get his first run of the season. Eight Trojans registered a hit, Figueroa leading with a total of three hits followed by Noah Dickerson with two.
UA Little Rock Senior Pitcher Hayden Arnold had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, finishing out the game pitching a total of six strikeouts in four innings. Hayden pitched four balls, allowing ORU’s B Gibson to walk to first base, advancing every player to the next base. This way Jake McMurray was able to score ORU’s third and final run.
Arnold still closed out the game with a win when ORU’s batter hit a fly ball in the hands of infielder Miguel Soto. The Trojans win their first game of the season 4-3. “Being able to play and getting over here and getting the win, we’re very proud and fortunate.” Coach Chris Curry said while showing his gratitude towards game host Oral Roberts.