CONWAY, Ark. — The University of Central Arkansas Bears jumped out to an 9-0 lead Sunday and then held on for a 9-8 victory over Abilene Christian in their Southland Conference series finale at Bear Stadium.
With the victory, the Bears (5-6, 2-2) gained a split of the four-game series under the new SLC weekend format.
UCA starter Logan Gilbertson, a junior right hander from Cabot, shut down the Wildcats (10-5, 2-2) for 5 2/3 innings while the Bears’ offense was racking up eight runs, including six in the sixth inning. But after UCA added a ninth run in the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats came alive, scoring eight runs in the eighth. It took four UCA pitchers to finally get out of the inning, including Friday’s starting pitcher Mark Moyer, who came on and got the final two outs.
UCA then turned it over to redshirt freshman Tyler Cleveland in the ninth and he earned his second save of the weekend _ and fourth of the season _ working around a base hit.
UCA did all its damage with just five hits. The Bears drew eight walks and were hit three times. UCA’s first eight runs came courtesy of a ground out, a passed ball, four bases-loaded walks and a two-run bloop base hit by second baseman Benny Ayala. The four run-scoring walks came in a five-batter stretch in the sixth by Christian Brasher, Nathaniel Sagdahl, Connor Flagg and Beau Orlando. In the inning, UCA had just two hits to score six runs.
Sagdahl added an RBI single in the seventh to give the Bears what seemed to be a comfortable 9-run lead.
Gilbertson tied his career high with six strikeouts, allowing just three hits, no runs and no walks. Flagg, Ayala and Sagdahl had two RBI each for the Bears.
The Bears got single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings and never trailed. In the fourth, freshman center fielder Flagg led off with a double and eventually scored on a passed ball. Flagg’s groundout in the fifth brought in Brasher to make it 2-0.
ACU starter Tyler Morgan took the loss, going 3 1/3 innings and allowing just one unearned run on two hits with 4 strikeouts.
UCA hits the road next weekend for an SLC series at Lamar in Beaumont, Texas. Game times are 6 p.m. Friday, 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.