FLORENCE — The University of North Alabama led 5-0 early but had to get a stellar defensive play from Michael Schmidt in the ninth inning to hold on for an 8-7 win over Arkansas Tech at Mike Lane Field.
With the win, UNA improves to 22-7 on the season.
UNA starter Andrew Hillis was in control early as he shutout the Wonder Boys for four innings and the Lions handed him a 5-0 advantage. Tech got a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to chase Hillis but could never quite catch the Lions. UNA got a run in the bottom of the sixth, Tech answered with a run in the seventh and UNA added two more in the bottom of the seventh to make it 8-5. UNA reliever Brantley Claunch pitched three and 1/3 innings but left the game with one out in the ninth and two runners on. Closer Ben Seabrook got Zach Thomas to flyout but then surrendered a two-run single to Chris Reese to make it 8-7. Cesar Abreu then ripped a ball through the right side that would have driven in the tying run by Schmidt was able to knock it down and throw Abreu out to end the game.
Hillis (3-1) got the win, allowing four runs on seven hits over five innings. Seabrook got his seventh save of the season. Stephen Thompson (1-1) took the loss for Arkansas Tech, now 12-15.
UNA got a leadoff double from Schmidt, he was sacrificed to third and then scored on a passed ball to give UNA a 1-0 lead. The Lions added four more in the third inning as Drew Parker was hit by pitch, Darrmal Moore walked and Michael Schmidt had an infield single to load the bases with no outs. Parker scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Sloan and Josh Cyr doubled in two runs. Cyr then scored on a throwing error to make it 5-0.
Arkansas Tech got a solo home run from Abreu in the fifth and a two-run homer from Thomas Biocic in the sixth. After Kenny Spencer reached on an error, Hillis was pulled for Claunch, who gave up an RBI single before closing out the inning with UNA still on top 5-4.
In the UNA sixth, Josh Carpenter singled and scored on an RBI single by Darrmal Moore to make it 6-4. The Wonder Boys answered with a run off Claunch in the seventh to again make it a one-run game at 6-5. In the bottom of the seventh UNA got a single from Cyr and J.P. LaMunyon reached on an error. Carpenter drove in a run with a ground-out and Parker drove in what would prove to be a necessary insurance run with an RBI single.
Both teams had 14 hits in the contest. The Lions were led by Schmidt and Cyr with three each.
UNA plays at single game at Tennessee Wesleyan (25-5) on Saturday at 2 p.m. Central in Athens, Tenn.