TROY, Ala. – Troy’s Tanner Hicks outdueled Preseason Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year Chance Cleveland in Troy’s 2-1 victory over UALR in the Sun Belt series opener Friday night at Riddle-Pace Field.
Hicks (5-2) tossed a complete-game four-hitter to lead Troy to its 10th straight victory at home, the fifth longest active streak in the country. The junior right-hander struck out a career-high nine batters and walked just three. Hicks’ complete game was the third by a Troy pitcher in Sun Belt action this year.
“This game was all about Tanner Hicks and how well he pitched,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “This was a great Friday night win for us and Tanner certainly deserves a lot, if not all, of the credit. He was the man tonight and hopefully this is a step in the right direction for him to have the confidence to finish games.”
Troy (27-11, 9-7 Sun Belt) got both of its runs against Cleveland in the bottom of the third inning. Brandon Brown, who caught Hicks’ complete game, drew a walk to lead off the inning and took second on a great piece of hitting by Tyler Vaughn.
After falling behind in the count 0-2, Logan Pierce drove a single into right field to score Brown and give Troy a 1-0 lead. The base hit extended Pierce’s streak of reaching base safely to 43 straight games; the longest streak in the nation.
Danny Collins belted his 18th double of the season down the line in left field to put runners at second and third with one out. Trae Santos plated what would be the game-winning run with a sharp ground ball to first base.
UALR, who swept a doubleheader at No. 13 Oklahoma on Tuesday, scored its only run of the night in the sixth. Ben Crumpton led off the frame with a triple to center field and scored on a grounder to short by Austin Pfeiffer. Hicks finished the inning with a pair of big strikeouts around two singles and a stolen base.
Cleveland (4-6) suffered the hard-luck loss for UALR (18-19, 5-11) after he allowed two runs on just three hits over eight innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Troy will look to capture the series Saturday afternoon in game two of the series. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and Shane McCain (6-0, 3.81) will get the start on the mound for Troy.