SUGAR LAND, Texas – In the first extra-inning contest of the 2019 Southland Conference Tournament, No. 2 Central Arkansas secured a spot in Saturday evening’s championship game with a 6-3 win over No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday.
The Bears exploded for three in the top of the 10th, beginning with Jay Anderson reaching second on a single and a sac bunt.
Three pitches later, Tyler Smith singled in Anderson with a ball through the right side to take the 4-3 lead.
UCA loaded the bases on a Tanner Wiley base knock and a Kolby Johnson walk, followed by a two-run single off the bat of Cole Fiori to double the Lions’ output.
Conner Williams (4-1) earned the win after tossing 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just three hits and striking out three.
Cody Davenport, who threw 127 pitches in UCA’s first game of the tournament, came on for his first career save opportunity and retired the side in order with two strikeouts to pick up his first stop.
Doing what they’ve done in their last three wins entering Saturday, SLU jumped out to an early lead on a Harrington RBI single to drive in Nick Ray, who drew an eight-pitch, two-out walk and got into scoring position on a wild pitch by Bears’ starter Mark Moyer.
UCA answered in the following half inning as Christian Brasher doubled over the head of right fielder Nathan Pilutti on the very first pitch of the top of the third and scored two batters later on a Jay Anderson single to right.
The Bears’ half of the third came to an end on a 5-4-3 double play, the fifth twin-killing by SLU over the teams’ last two matchups, but UCA gave the Lions a dose of their own medicine by doubling them up with two runners aboard in the home-half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Bears took the lead on back-to-back hits in a one-out single for Beau Orlando and a RBI double down the right-field line by Wiley, his third two-bagger at the tournament.
Moyer must’ve felt like déjà vu was coming on in the bottom of the fourth as Ray drew another two-out walk and advanced 90 feet on a ball that got away from catcher Nathaniel Sagdahl.
However, Moyer got a better outcome than the second inning, punching out Connor Manola for the final out.
But, SLU was able to take advantage of a two-out situation with a runner in scoring position in the next frame as Kyle Schimpf launched a two-run, opposite-field home run over the wall to regain the lead and run Moyer out of the game.
With the Lions’ all-conference closer Jared Biddy on the mound to begin the seventh, UCA loaded the bases on a Wiley single, a ball thrown away by Cody Grosse and a free pass issued to Cole Fiori.
A dribbler to the right side from Sagdahl brought Wiley home for the tying run, but that’s all the Bears got across.
Southeastern Louisiana came close to plating the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eight after putting runners on the corners by way of a double down the left-field line and a no-out fielder’s choice, allowing Trey Harrington to reach safely.
However, Williams retired the next three batters in order to escape the jam and maintain the level score.
UCA was also 90 feet from taking the lead in the ensuing half inning as Kolby Williams was pegged to start the frame and moved up two bases on a sac bunt and a wild pitch. Biddy caught Sagdahl looking for his fourth punchout and forced the game to go to the bottom of the ninth.
Saturday’s championship game went beyond press time, so coverage of the game will be in Tuesday’s edition of the Log Cabin Democrat, as well as on thecabin.net.