The UCA baseball team inched its way closer to the top of the Southland Conference with a three-game sweep of the McNeese State University Cowboys on April 17-19.
Heading into the series the Bears (21-15, 10-8 SLC) sat at eighth place in the conference, while the Cowboys (20-18, 10-8 SLC) were tied for first place.
Senior pitcher Bryce Biggerstaff said the sweep was big for the team.
“This past weekend was huge for us,” he said. “Sweeping a great team like McNeese gives us so much confidence as a team.”
The series’ first game saw UCA win 6-5 on a walk off triple in the tenth inning by sophomore infielder Matt Anderson on April 17.
The Bears jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after junior infielder Nate Ferrell and freshman infielder Joey Pinney hit two singles.
Senior shortstop Justin Treece laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners before senior first baseman Scott Zimmerle hit a single to bring Ferrell and Pinney home.
UCA increased its lead in the bottom of the third inning after senior infielder Doug Votolato singled to right field and stole second.
He was brought home on a single by sophomore second baseman Chris Townsend.
MSU tied the score in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly to left field by sophomore infielder Billy Sommers to score senior outfielder Jackson Gooch.
Senior outfielder Lucas Quary hit a home run to left field to score senior infielder Chayse Marion.
The Cowboys took the lead in the top of the fifth inning on a single to left field by Gooch to score junior outfielder Andrew Guillotte, who reached on a single up the middle.
Gooch advanced to second on the throw home. He advanced to third on a wild pitch to Marion before Marion walked.
MSU scored on a double steal by Marion and Gooch to bring the game to 5-3.
The Bears battled back in the inning’s bottom half to tie the game at 5-5 on a single up the middle by freshman outfielder Carson Dowdle and a Ferrell bringing Votolato home on a fielder’s choice.
Both teams remained in a stalemate until the bottom of the 10th inning when junior catcher Chris Deckard walked and Anderson hit a walk off triple to give UCA the 6-5 win.
Biggerstaff (3-4) threw all 10 innings to get the win and a complete game.
The series’ second game saw junior pitcher Chris Caudle (6-3) shut down the Cowboy’s offense en route to an 11-3 win April 18.
UCA broke the game open in the bottom of the second with two walks, one hit by pitch, three hits and two errors by MSU.
The Bears scored its first run of the second inning and the second run of the game on a throwing error by junior pitcher Michael Clemens to score Votolato.
Townsend then hit a bases loaded single to score two more runs to make the score 4-0.
Ferrell was the next batter up and singled to right field to bring Dowdle home.
The inning’s final two runs were scored on a fielding error by junior shortstop Connor Lloyd and a bases-loaded ground out by Deckard.
The Cowboys got two runs back on a fielding error by Ferrell bringing the score to 7-2 in UCA’s favor.
The Bears tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Deckard and Anderson.
MSU scored its final run of the game on a single to left center field by senior infielder Reed Gordy.
UCA sophomore outfielder Tyler Langley hit his lead-gaining third home run in the bottom of the fifth to bring the score to 10-3.
The Bears got their final run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Townsend to bring Votolato home in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Caudle threw eight and one- thirds innings, gave up 11 hits, struck out and walked three batters and gave up one run in the win.
Clemens took the loss for the Cowboys and is 4-2 on the season.
The series’ final game saw UCA come out with a 4-2 win Saturday.
The game’s starting pitchers were dominant throughout, holding opposing teams to two runs each until MSU starting pitcher sophomore Bryce Kingsly was pulled in the sixth inning.
UCA starting pitcher sophomore Connor Gilmore (4-1) threw his second complete game of the season and second complete game in the series for the Bears to get the win.
The Bears scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch by Kingsly to score Zimmerle, who reached on a double to left field.
Anderson continued his hot streak in the bottom of the fourth inning when he doubled to right center to bring home Deckard, who doubled to center.
The Cowboys tied the game up in the top of the fifth on a single by sophomore catcher Cameron Toole to bring Sommers home and a sacrifice bunt by Guillotte to score senior outfielder Matt Williams.
Both teams were locked in a tie until the bottom of the seventh inning, when Votolato hit his first home run to left field to score Deckard and bring the game to 4-2.
Cowboys junior pitcher Tyler Erickson took the loss and is 2-1 on the season.
Votolato said momentum is important heading into the season’s final weeks.
“From here on out every game we win adds momentum going into the tournament,” he said. “Getting hot at the right time is huge.”
The Bears will hit the road to Natchitoches, La. to take on the Northwestern State University Demons (22-17, 10-8 SLC) for a three-game series starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday.