Bears tear up series, send Panthers home with tails tucked between legs

The runs were rampant for the Bears against Eastern Illinois University this weekend as they swept the Panthers, 4-0.

The Bears won all four games in Bear Stadium, 4-2, 9-1, 4-3 and 6-5.

Senior centerfielder Tyler Langley spoke highly of how his team played this weekend.

“I thought this weekend was good,” Langley said. “We had a lot of guys step up and do big things.”

Assistant coach Jordan Hill also praised his team after an impressive series.

“It was a great weekend for our guys,” Hill said. “It’s hard to beat a team as competitive as Eastern Illinois like that.”

The teams started things off on Friday Feb. 26 in a chilly evening affair, which saw the Bears win 4-2.

Starting pitcher Connor Gilmore took ahold of the game early and never let go.

Gilmore finished the game having only giving up three hits for eight innings while striking out seven batters on the night, tying the all time wins record at UCA.

Assistant coach Jordan Hill said he loved to see Gilmore tie the record.

“You love seeing Gilmore do what Gilmore does. And that’s simply win,” Hill said.

Leading the way in hitting on the first night of action was sophomore right fielder Ty Tice who had two hits in four at bats for the Bears and was able to earn himself a run early in the first inning from an RBI single hit by senior left fielder Brandon Montalvo.

Freshman first baseman Hunter Strong finished the game going one for three at bat with two RBI.

Feb. 27 featured a double header between the teams that saw the Bears take both games 9-1, and 4-3 respectively.

In the first game of the day the UCA order made life difficult for EIU starting pitcher Michael McCormick by racking up three runs within the first two innings. A five run sixth inning finished the game off for the Bears in the opener.

The second game of the day saw the Bears finish with a narrow win of 4-3.

All seven runs came within the first inning of play with EIU earning three runs within the top of the frame and UCA answering quickly in the bottom of the frame.

The first inning of the game also saw sophomore catcher Justin McCarty tag his first career home run. Smashing a three run ball that gave the Bears a 4-3 lead and what ended up to be the final score.

In the series closer, junior shortstop Butch Rae proved to be the hero of the day in another narrow 6-5 win.

Rae’s sacrifice fly ball in the sixth inning proved to be the winning run as the Bears were able to sweep the series against the Panthers.

Senior third baseman Logan Preston finished the day going two for four at bat with an RBI.

Freshman first baseman Hunter Strong finished the game going one for two at bat and bringing in two runners.

The Bears will have the day off on Feb. 29 as they travel to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners of Oklahoma University.

When asked about the team playing at a Big 12 conference school, senior Tyler Langley shrugged at the task.

“It could be Missouri State, Mississippi State or Sam Houston State, we still have to play Bear baseball,” Langley said. “The bases don’t change in distance, the pitcher still has to throw the ball. We’re not doing anything different to prepare for them.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2, 2016 print edition of The Echo.

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