HOUSTON, Texas — The University of Central Arkansas Bears rallied for a 3-2 victory over Houston Baptist in the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader before dropping the series finale 8-6 in Southland Conference action at Husky Field.
UCA (21-26, 16-20) came back from a 2-1 deficit after three innings to score single runs in both the fourth and seventh innings to win the seven-inning affair. Freshman Tyler Cleveland pitched the final four innings, holding the Huskies scoreless and striking out three for his sixth victory of the season.
The Bears scored once in the second inning on Connor Flagg’s RBI single up the middle that plated Benny Ayala, who had doubled down the left-field line. After HBU (12-36, 10-25) took a 2-1 lead with a run in each of the second and third innings, UCA tied it in the fourth with another Ayala double and a sacrifice fly by Christian Brasher.
The Bears added the game-winner in the seventh when Drew Sturgeon led off with a walk, moved to second on Brasher’s walk, and to third on Flagg’s sacrifice bunt. Conner Emmet reached on a fielder’s choice. Cleveland then got the Huskies in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal it.
Ayala went 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, while senior Coby Potvin also had two hits.
In Game 2, the Bears used a four-run inning to tie the game in the fourth, but then gave up a four-run sixth inning to the Huskies to split the series. Down 4-0 after three innings, UCA put up four runs on three hits in the fourth, including a two-run double by Ayala, an RBI groundout by R.J. Pearson and an RBI single by catcher Nathaniel Sagdahl.
UCA pushed the lead to 6-4 in the next frame with a two-run home run to left field by Ayala, who finished the weekend series 8 for 11 (.727) with 6 RBI, 6 runs scored, 5 doubles and 1 home run.
But the Huskies, playing on their Senior Day, responded with four runs in the sixth and held UCA scoreless the rest of the way. Ayala finished 3 for 4 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored. The Bears committed three more errors, giving them 15 for the four-game series.
The Bears will close out the regular season at home with a four-game SLC series with the McNeese Cowboys, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bear Stadium.