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Little Rock run-rules Georgia State to clinch spot in SBC Tournament

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A 16-1 run-rule win over Georgia State gave Little Rock baseball the series sweep and clinched a spot in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the second consecutive year on Sunday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field.

The last time Little Rock made back-to-back Sun Belt Tournament appearances was in 2000 and 2001.

It was a total offensive onslaught for the Trojans (21-30, 11-16 Sun Belt) as they tallied 13 hits for the day. The Panthers (20-31, 8-19) contributed to the Trojans' offensive domination as by allowing 13 walks. The last time Little Rock walked 13 times in a game was against Georgia State last year at home.

The Trojans' pitching staff had a much different story as it struck out six and allowed two hit-by-pitches and no walks. Chandler Fidel (3-7) earned the win after throwing five scoreless innings with four strikeouts and four hits allowed. Keenan Wingfield struck out one and allowed one run on two hits in an inning of relief while Jacob Rateliff struck out one and allowed one hit in one inning of work.

"Great job by our seniors today," head coach Chris Curry said. "We had senior leadership with Dalton and Zach leading the way, and Gifford had a great weekend. That's what it takes to put ourselves in a position to get into the postseason. What I really like is when these guys' backs are against the wall, they didn't run from the moment. They ran to it, and that's what we've been wanting to see all year."

The game was called after the top of the seventh inning due to the Sun Belt's 10-run mercy rule on travel days.

"It was a great weekend and a great day for the program," Curry said. "I'm happy for the guys because they've worked extremely hard, and to have the opportunity to go to the postseason in back-to-back years says a lot on where the program is headed. Hopefully this creates the expectations that we're supposed to be in the postseason every year."

Before heading off to the Sun Belt Tournament, Little Rock still has four important games to be played. The Trojans return to Gary Hogan Field for the final time this season on Tuesday to face Central Arkansas in the series-deciding game of this year's Rock 'n' Roar Rivalry. After that, Little Rock will travel up to Jonesboro for a crucial seed-deciding series against rival Arkansas State beginning on Thursday night.

-Courtesy Little Rock Athletics

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