CONWAY, Ark. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats struck first, but Central Arkansas struck more often and completed a series sweep with a 6-2 win on Saturday afternoon at Bear Stadium.
UCA (20-20, 11-7 SLC) put runs on the board in four of the first five innings of the game and once again kept the Bearkat (22-15, 14-7 SLC) offense at bay, not allowing SHSU to score after two in the opening inning.
The sweep is the first of the Bearkats by a Southland Conference foe since late in the 2017 season, and is the second straight by UCA over the Kats in Conway.
Seth Ballew took the loss, allowing five runs in just 2.0 full innings of work. Meanwhile, UCA’s Brad Verel turned in the longest outing of his career with 7.0 full innings for the Bears, punching out five while keeping the Kats scoreless for his final six innings of work to move to 4-2 on the year.
The Bearkats will next head to Sugar Land for the finale of the Don Sanders Cup series against Houston to be played at Constellation Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. from the home of the Sugar Land Skeeters.
Sam Houston put together a two-out rally to stake itself to an early 2-0 lead in the opening inning against Verel. A walk to Colton Cowser and a bunt single by Hunter Hearn got the inning started, setting up Clayton Harp who drove in the Kats’ first run with an RBI single to right field. The Kats brought in another run one batter later on a double steal that scored Hearn for a 2-0 advantage, but UCA immediately answered with two runs of their own in the home half of the inning. Each of the first two Bears of the inning reached base with each coming home on RBI singles by Beau Orlando and Marco Navarro.
The Kats stranded a pair in the second inning and once again UCA put a pair on the board in the bottom half of the frame. A hit batter with one away was followed by a bunt single by Christian Brasher to set things up. Jay Anderson then followed with a sure single to center field to plate a run and one batter later Josh Ragan lined a single into right field to score Brasher and up the Bear lead to 4-2.
Sam Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but could not cash in as UCA kept its 4-2 lead. Navarro then singled to open the Bear half of the inning and came around to score on a pair of wild pitches, the second one kicking away enough to allow him to score from second base and increase the UCA advantage to 5-2.
A leadoff hit batter cost the Kats in the fifth as Orlando reached base to start the frame and came in to score three batters later on an RBI single by Brett D’Amico that upped the lead to 6-2. They threatened to add on more, but Cole Wesneski was able to get Brasher to ground out to strand a pair of runners on base.