The Bears thumped McNeese State in a three-game series over the weekend, winning 6-5 on Thursday, 11-3 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday at Bear Stadium.
Sophomore Matt Anderson led UCA (21-15, 10-8) in hitting, going 5-for-8 with 3 RBIs, knocking in a runner in all three games. Senior Scott Zimmerle went 4-for-10 with 5 RBIs, three of them coming in the final game to help complete the series sweep.
UCA’s pitching was solid over McNeese State (20-18, 10-8) in all three games. The Bears’ starters pitched a combined 27.1 innings, only using a closer in the second game for the final two outs. Sophomore Connor Gilmore (4-1) had the most impressive outing in his game three performance, pitching all nine innings, allowing eight hits, two runs, one walk and striking out four batters. Junior Chris Caudle (6-3) pitched 8.1 innings in game two, allowing 11 hits, three runs, three walks and striking out three batters.
Despite only hitting two home runs, the Bears’ offense hit well in the three games, getting 28 hits and 20 runs.
The sweep was an important one. It put UCA in a five-way tie for 2nd place in the Southland Conference with McNeese State, Northwestern State, Lamar and Sam Houston State. The top two teams in the conference, A&M-Corpus Christi and Southeastern Louisiana, are 12-6 in league play, so the chances for UCA to land the top seed for the conference tournament on May 22 is within reach. The Bears have won four straight games, so it isn’t crazy to think that they could get hot and make a solid run here at the end of the season.
UCA has games against Arkansas State and a presumably tense rematch with UALR before playing 12 Southland games to close out the regular season with Northwestern State (22-17, 10-8), Oral Roberts (21-18, 9-9), Incarnate Word (12-24, 5-7) and New Orleans (10-26, 2-16). If the Bears can get past the first six games, they’ll be facing two schools with a combined 7-23 conference record.
The Bears play Arkansas State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Bears Stadium before traveling to UALR to take on the Trojans on Wednesday at 6 p.m.