HUNTSVILLE – Central Arkansas’ Tyler Gray turned in a brilliant start on Friday night, leading the Bears to a 13-2 win over Sam Houston State in the opener of a three-game series at Don Sanders Stadium.
The UCA (23-14, 11-5 SLC) starter went the distance to move to 5-0 for the season, striking out seven Bearkat (26-13, 13-3 SLC) hitters to add to his league-leading total. He did not allow a hit until the sixth inning and kept the Kats off the scoreboard until consecutive two-out hits in the ninth by Blake Chisolm and Clayton Harp kept Sam Houston from being shut out for the first time this season.
Sam Houston was not able to dig itself out of an early hole after UCA got to Nick Mikolajchak for three runs In the opening inning before building it up to a 7-0 advantage through four frames. Hunter Strong and Will Hancock had four hits apiece for UCA with Strong finishing a home run shy of the cycle.
The Bears would finish with 17 hits on the night and leave 17 runners on base, taking advantage of a night that saw Sam Houston issue a dozen free passes. Mikolajchak took the loss after allowing five runs in 3.1 innings before Gabriel Sequeira came in to log 3.2 innings of relief. The game also saw the first appearances on the mound by Jack Rogers and Chisolm, with Chisolm striking out each of the two hitters he faced in the top of the ninth.
Despite the loss, Sam Houston maintains a two-game lead over UCA in the Southland Conference standings entering Saturday’s swing game in the series. First pitch on Saturday is set for 3 p.m. at The Don.