Following a four-game losing streak, the UCA Bears baseball team won a series against the Southland Conference regular season champions Sam Houston State University Bearkats last weekend at home.
UCA junior second baseman Chris Townsend said it was great to get a series win against SHSU, but really great to win a series against a conference opponent in general.
“It feels great to win the series against any of our conference opponents,” he said.
The Bearkats (13-16, 7-5 SLC) took an early 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning March 27 on four hits and a throwing error by UCA junior infielder Logan Preston and a wild pitch by junior pitcher Connor Gilmore.
The Bears (14-8, 8-4 SLC) cut the lead down to two in the bottom of the second after junior outfielder Braxton Phillips scored on a throwing error by SHSU catcher junior Collin Yelich.
UCA tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a double down the left field line by junior third baseman Hayden Steele, scoring Phillips and senior infielder Nate Ferrell.
The next batter senior outfielder Wesley Hoover singled to right center field, scoring Steele and taking the lead with a final score of 4-3. Gilmore improved his record to 3-2 with a complete game.
He gave up three runs on four hits and struck out four.
The Bearkats took the second game 6-3 in 13 innings in the weekend’s second game March 28.
SHSU scored two runs in the top of the third on two hits.
The Bearkats scored their third run in the top of the seventh inning on a single up the middle by junior infielder Miles Manning, scoring Yelich.
The Bears scored their first run on a home run by junior outfielder
Tyler Langley down the left field line in the bottom of the eighth.
Townsend said Langley helped provide a spark to the Bears offense.
“Langley set the tone for us in the leadoff spot at the plate,” he said. “He pretty much did it all. He bunted for a base hit, hit a home run, scored runs, drove in runs and played great centerfield as well.”
UCA tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on three hits.
SHSU won the game with three runs in the top of the 13th inning on three hits, winning the game 6-3.
Junior Greg Belton won the game in four innings of relief, giving up two hits and striking out five.
The Bears took the final game of the series with a 6-4 win March 29.
UCA took the lead after Hoover singled to left field, stole second and Ferrell tripled to right field, scoring Hoover.
The Bears scored their second run in the bottom of the second inning on a bases-loaded walk by Townsend.
The Bearkats scored their first run in the top of the fourth on a force out when sophomore outfielder/pitcher Dylan Ebbs grounded into a double play, scoring Manning.
UCA scored three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on two runs and one error. The Bears left two batters on base.
UCA scored its final run on a single to left field by Preston, scoring Hoover.
The Bearkats tried to mount a comeback, scoring a run in the top eighth and two more runs in the top of the ninth on two hits. SHSU left two players on base.
Despite UCA winning the series, Townsend said the team still has things to work on for upcoming series.
“We need to have better execution, and playing a full nine innings as one unit, start to finish,” he said. “And just keep getting better in every facet of the game.”
The Bears sit behind Southeastern Louisiana University and Northwestern State University for third place.
UCA traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, facing the Oklahoma University Sooners, and then will go to Carbondale, Illinois for a three-game series against the Missouri Valley Conference’s Southern Illinois University starting April 2.