CONWAY, Ark. – Sam Houston State overcame a two-run deficit in the eighth but could muster nothing more as Central Arkansas used a two-out single in the 10th inning to defeat the Bearkats, 3-2, in the first game of doubleheader action on Saturday.
Sam Houston starter Heath Donica limited the Bears to just two runs (one earned) and three hits over eight innings. The right-hander fanned five and walked three. Left-handed reliever Riley Cooper set UCA down in order in the ninth but a pair of two-out singles brought home the winning runner.
The loss dropped Sam Houston to 26-12 overall and 13-3 in Southland Conference play while Central Arkansas improved to 20-18 and 8-8 in league action. First pitch for the day’s second game is slated for 4:30 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Central Arkansas manufactured an early 1-0 lead, using a leadoff single and error to put Keaton Presley aboard to begin the game. The junior came home to score courtesy of a sacrifice bunt and RBI groundout from Hunter Strong, his 31st of the season, ranking second on the team.
The Bears added to their lead in the fourth as Strong produced UCA’s second hit to begin the frame and moved to second as William Hancock worked a four-pitch walk. Justin McCarty moved the pair into scoring position with a sac bunt and Brooks Balisterri plated Strong on an RBI groundout.
Donica would set down nine straight beginning in the fourth but the Bearkats could not string anything together offensively. The Kats went down in order in five of the first seven innings.
Sam Houston finally got to starter Tyler Gray in the eighth. Clayton Harp led off with a five-pitch walk and advantaged to second as pinch-hitter Blake Chisolm registered the Kats third hit of the game, sending the second offering into right for a single.
Lance Miles followed suit, sending his second pitch through the left side for a single, loading the bases with no outs. Taylor Beene brought home the first run, working a full-count walk, his 19th of the season, trimming the deficit to 2-1.
Jaxxon Grisham entered the pinch hit, the third for Sam Houston in two innings, sending an RBI single through the right side, evening the score at 2-2. The Bearkats missed a key opportunity, stranding the bases loaded on back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout.
The Kats put the leadoff runner aboard for the third time in four innings during the ninth as Robie Rojas worked a full-count walk. Reliever Ty Tice fanned two straight but Miles recorded his second single in as many at bats, moving Rojas to second. Sam Houston stranded two, however, on a strikeout.
Sam Houston dropped its second extra-inning game of the season, however, as the Bears struck for three singles in the 10th inning including a go-ahead base knock into left center from Jansen McCurdy.