BEAUMONT, Texas — A come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Lamar on Saturday at Vincent-Beck Stadium earned the University of Central Arkansas Bears their eighth Southland Conference series win of the year and the No. 2 seed in next week's SLC Tournament.
The Bears (29-25, 19-11 SLC) got an RBI triple from junior third baseman Beau Orlando in a three-run eighth inning and then held off the Cardinals (18-36, 9-12 SLC) to close the regular season.
UCA finished in a tie for second with Southeastern Louisiana in the final SLC standings but earned the No. 2 seed by virtue of its 2-1 series win over the Lions on the opening conference weekend back in March in Hammond, Louisiana.
UCA, making its eighth consecutive SLC tournament appearance, will face seventh-seeded Northwestern State, the defending SLC Tournament champions, at noon Wednesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.
The No. 2 seed is the highest ever for the Bears, who won the tournament in 2013 as a No. 7 seed and have reached two other championship games since.
The 19 conference wins is a school record for the Bears since moving into the SLC in 2007.
UCA and Northwestern State did not play during the regular season.
The Bears trailed Lamar 1-0 after one inning on Saturday, and 2-0 after four innings.
But UCA junior starter Mark Moyer held the Cardinals in check from there as the Bears chipped away at the deficit.
UCA got a run in the sixth on Orlando's RBI single to right-center that scored Josh Ragan.
Orlando finished the day 2 for 4 with three RBI and a run scored.
In the eighth, second baseman Jay Anderson singled down the left-field line and Ragan followed with another.
A ground out moved the runners to second and third before Orlando lined a pitch into the left-center gap to score both runs and give the Bears their first lead at 3-2.
Designated hitter Tanner Wiley made it a two-run lead with a base hit to left field, scoring Orlando.
UCA reliever Conner Williams took over for Moyer in the eighth and worked around a two-out walk to keep Lamar off the board.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals got a one-out triple from Logan Berlof and he scored on a sacrifice fly, but Williams got Rhett McCall to pop up to shortstop Joshmar Doran to end the game.
Anderson went 3 for 5 from the leadoff spot, while Wiley finished 2 for 4.
UCA, which managed only one hit through the first five innings, added nine more after that against four Lamar pitchers.
The Bears had five hits in the decisive eighth inning.
Moyer (3-3) got the victory, while Williams picked up his second save.
Lamar reliever Grason Wright (2-6) took the loss.
The rest of the first-round matchups at the tournament include:
9 a.m. - No. 3 SLU vs. No. 6 SFA
Noon - No. 2 UCA vs. No. 7 NSU
4 p.m. - No. 1 SHSU vs. No. 8 Texas A&M-CC
7 p.m. - No. 4 UIW vs. No. 5 McNeese State